When working out in the gym, you are often used to running on the treadmill, lifting weights, or going on a few lapses in the pool. You then take a nice bath in the steam shower room, and when you get home, you grab your foot massager to relieve your tired feet.
Most gyms also have saunas, but using it probably never came across your mind. If it did, you brushed the thought away and proceeded to your usual workout routine.
There is a reason why gyms have saunas. They bring a number of health benefits that can help your body before and after a workout.
Saunas can be very relaxing, especially when you’ve just finished a tough workout. The heat helps loosen up your muscles and relieves all the ache and soreness that you feel. Getting in a sauna can help improve your blood circulation, therefore encouraging your body to heal.
A lot of people who use the sauna as part of their fitness routine often believe that the best time to use it is after their workouts. This may be a fact, but it is also true that getting in the sauna before you start exercising can be beneficial.
The heat from the sauna helps warm up your body before you start your workouts. Once your muscles and your entire body becomes warm enough, they become easier for you to move and handle the intensity of your training.
- Improved Cardiovascular Health
Research on far infrared saunas have shown how using saunas can help improve blood circulation and normalize blood pressure due to the heat that they release.
When your body gets warmed up inside the sauna, your heart rate starts to increase by up to 150 bpm and your blood vessels dilate. This means that your body’s overall circulation is increased, aiding in the transportation of oxygen and nutrients throughout your system.
Saunas also contribute to hyperthermic conditioning, wherein your body experiences an increase in plasma volume to improve blood flow to your heart. This is useful especially when you just finished an intense exercise.
- Elevates Hormone Production
For people who want to have substantial gains, getting in the sauna can be very helpful in reaching that goal. Saunas help increase the production of natural growth hormones — a 15-20 minute exposure to the heat of the sauna can elevate growth hormone levels by 2-5 fold.
- Decrease in Cortisol Levels
Getting into a tough workout paired with other factors that can cause stress can lead your body to experience fatigue. A sauna could help your body let go of any of those stress-related thoughts and feelings.
It helps you enter the parasympathetic state where your body is stressed, thus slowing down your heart rate and relaxing your muscles.
- Muscle Recovery
Strenuous workouts can sometimes flare up muscle problems and chronic issues. Saunas help prevent this by targeting aching or inflamed areas and aiding in their fast recovery.
A study on infrared saunas found that patients with chronic pain experienced a pain reduction of about 70% after getting into an infrared sauna. This is why some athletes prefer adding this into their routine.
- Precautionary Measures
Just like any other workout, using the sauna also requires replenishing your fluids. If you are not careful and mindful of your own body, you can be easily dehydrated while inside the sauna. If you have already worked up a good sweat, be sure to be more cautious about the minutes you spend inside the sauna.
If it is your first time using the sauna after exercising, it is best if you only do 5-10 minutes of heat exposure. Once you get used to the heat, you can increase the time to up to 20 minutes. Be sure to take a water bottle with you to keep you hydrated.
Once you have finished your sauna session, replenish your fluids by drinking 2-4 glasses of water. If you ever feel lightheaded while inside, leave the sauna immediately.
Saunas can be a great way to start or end your workout routine, keeping in mind that there are some necessary precautions that must be taken into consideration before you get in.
The next time you plan on improving your workouts, you might want to try adding saunas into your list.