While cold therapy has recently been all the rage, saunas have been around much longer. And while there are risks, like dehydration, a few minutes in the steam room could improve your workouts.
During a sauna session, the body is stimulated to release a hormone called endorphins. These are neurotransmitters that block pain signals from the brain and cause feelings of euphoria. They can also help relieve stress and tension, making them ideal for post-workout recovery.
Another benefit of a detoxification session after a workout is that it can help reduce the inflammation associated with exercise. This is because sauna use can help increase circulation and reduce C-reactive protein levels, a marker for inflammation.
In addition, the intense heat of a sauna can cause the muscles to release a hormone called norepinephrine, which has been shown to decrease inflammation and promote healing. Lastly, sweating in a sauna room can help cleanse the body of toxins and metals that are building up in the system. Just be sure to take it easy at the beginning and stay in the sauna for a short time if you’re not used to it, as doing so can lead to dehydration.
A sauna’s heat causes the muscles to relax, relieving tension and stiffness. This may ease the soreness you experience in the days after a tough workout and speed up the recovery time.
When you hit the sauna, your body’s cells can absorb oxygen quickly, thanks to the increased blood flow caused by the high temperature. This oxygen influx helps repair the microscopic muscle tears that are a natural part of any exercise. This accelerates muscle growth and strengthens them over time.
The heat of a sauna also helps to shock the system and improves endurance by training the body’s cellular adaptations to hot environments. This is why many athletes, especially distance runners, use custom saunas to prepare for their events in hot and humid environments. The heat can also help to prevent post-workout fatigue and help maintain a healthy metabolism.
The steam in saunas provides a boost to your circulatory system. It increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body and helps repair muscles damaged during exercise. Regular sauna users experience a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and neurocognitive disorders.
It also enhances the effects of endorphins, neurotransmitters that help reduce pain and promote pleasure and euphoria. These effects can help you recover more quickly from your workout and amplify the gratifying results of your cardio sessions.
If you’re new to saunas, slowly and gradually increase the heat and duration of your sessions. Remember to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can occur quickly in the sauna. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, exit the sauna and cool down immediately.
Studies show that sitting in a sauna after a workout burns several calories. This is because sitting in heat raises your heart rate and requires a lot of energy to cool you down. The extra energy burned, in turn, promotes weight loss by burning more calories than you would while just sitting.
As your heart beats faster, your blood vessels dilate or open up to provide oxygen-rich blood to the muscles. This influx of nutrients helps repair microscopic tears in your muscles and speeds up recovery. However, the extra stress from the heat also strains your body’s antioxidant defense system. Considering this, you need to be careful not to overdo your sauna use, especially in the beginning, and only increase the duration as you become accustomed to the heat.