Get ready to fuel your workouts, improve your health, and speed up muscle recovery, because of the various sauna benefits for health, fitness & wellness…
Health benefits of saunas
Most people head to the sauna for a dose of calm, or even to ease some aches and pains, but if you knew the total extent of their benefits, you’d probably move in. Dry heat rooms, used for hundreds of years in Finnish and Swedish communities, have some serious health credentials, including a reduced risk of high vital signs, improved lung function, and proven benefits for cognitive health.
The science-based evidence for heart health has long been established. Indeed, a review of 40 studies involving 3,855 participants within the journal Evidence-based Complementary and practice of medicine reports that regular sauna use reduced the megalocardia size of individuals with congestive coronary failure, improved arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), and cut the danger of overtime from an attack by 63 percent. Research shows they’re good for cognitive health, too, with one study reporting a 66 percent reduction in dementia risk.
When it involves fitness, saunas are excellent news – improving oxygen saturation during exercise and increasing workout time post heat session, even boosting the function of your powerhouse cells, the mitochondria, by 28 percent. increase these proven benefits for pain relief and their undoubted usefulness for post-workout recovery and you’ll see visiting the sauna may be a valuable addition to your training plan.
woman sitting relaxing in a very dark wooden sauna enjoying the health and fitness muscle recovery benefits
How saunas work
Often housed in small wood-paneled cabins, saunas provide dry heat at between 65°C to 90°C. extreme heat exposure raises your skin and core temperature, and your sympathetic system (fight or flight response) kicks in together with other mechanisms, increasing vital signs, blood flow, and sweating in an endeavour to control your temperature. Your muscles relax, and you’re feeling more alert and less sensitive to pain.
On a cellular level, the results include reduced oxidative stress and inflammation. It’s also believed the warmth and stress your body experiences in a very sauna improves its functionality and/or tolerance to more severe challenges in a very similar thanks to exercising. Finally, adding essential oils into the air brings additional benefits – eucalyptus, as an example, can help clear the airways, while pine can leave you feeling refreshed and energized.
Try sauna therapy yourself
You probably know to replenish lost fluids with many waters. However, there are some other things to grips in mind when having a sauna. Don’t drink alcohol before or during a session thanks to its dehydrating effects.
Be sure to also keep sessions short, around 10 minutes (most people do two or three sessions in a very row). If you’re lying on the upper benches where temperatures are hotter, return to sitting lower down for the last one to 2 minutes of your session to acclimatize your body to being vertical before heading for a cooling shower or plunge pool.
WF editor Sarah Sellens tried a ‘saunagus’ at the leading sports and active leisure resort Club la Santa, in Lanzarote. It involved a ‘gus master’ placing ice infused with essential oils on the new stones before fanning heat around the sauna. ‘The wafts of aromatic heat that swept over me felt deeply therapeutic,’ says Sellens. ‘Each block of sauna time lasted for seven minutes. This was then followed by an optional plunge into the ice pool or swim to chill down. And while it sounds intense, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so rejuvenated.’