Many fitness experts think that using a sauna after a workout can make your exercise routine even better. But, do you know why?
Using a sauna after a workout is crucial for weight loss, reducing muscle tension, speeding up muscle recovery, and promoting relaxation. Some research even indicates it’s beneficial for heart health.
In this article, we discuss different types of saunas and five potential benefits of taking a sauna after a workout.
Types of saunas
A dry sauna is a wooden room with a heater designed to create warm conditions inside. This setup helps people inside to sweat, and it is associated with various health benefits.
Infrared saunas and dry saunas look alike with their wooden rooms and heaters. However, they differ in approach—unlike dry saunas, an infrared sauna uses a heater that emits radiant heat, directly warming your body instead of heating the surrounding air.
A wet/steam sauna
For centuries, people have used steam rooms for relaxation, sports recovery, and health benefits. A steam sauna, or steam room, involves the use of a generator filled with boiling water to create a hot and steamy environment. These facilities are typically found in gyms, spas, hotels, and resorts.
Benefits of Sauna After the Workout
Helps in weight loss
It is important to remember that going for a few sauna sessions will only help you lose water weight, which you will regain when you rehydrate. A study at Binghamton University in New York found that people who take sauna baths can lose up to 4% of their total fat over four months by sauna bathing an average of three times a week.
Many people don’t understand how a sauna promotes weight loss. There are several ways it can help you lose weight. First, a sauna increases your metabolism, burning calories at a quicker rate. Second, it raises your heart rate, leading to the burning of extra calories.
Using a sauna during your workouts helps you lose weight faster and brings additional health benefits. These include better heart health, less muscle tension, improved muscle recovery, and increased relaxation, as explained below.
It may decrease muscle tension
After intense exercise, it’s common for people to feel muscle tension. Luckily, there are different ways to ease it, such as stretching, using heat, getting a massage, or using a foam roller. Among these, heat therapy is a standout choice for many. That’s why hitting the sauna after a tough workout is often recommended. The sauna’s heat boosts blood flow and makes blood vessels relax, working wonders in reducing muscle tension and stiffness.
Ensure Good Heart Health
When combined with exercise, a sauna can contribute to a healthier heart. The high temperature in a sauna increases your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. Additionally, sweating in the sauna helps lower your bad cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Research indicates that sauna bathing might play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease. A study published in 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine, involving 2,300 Finnish men, found intriguing results. Those who reported using a sauna two to three times per week had a 27 percent lower risk of death from heart disease compared to those who used it only once a week. These findings suggest a potential link between regular sauna use and a decreased risk of heart-related issues.
Speed up muscle recovery
After an intense workout, your muscles may feel fatigued and sore. This is where the sauna comes to the rescue. The heat from the sauna increases blood flow to your muscles, delivering oxygen and nutrients that are essential for their recovery. Additionally, the increased circulation helps to remove metabolic waste products, such as lactic acid, which can contribute to muscle soreness.
As your muscles soak in the warmth of the sauna, they relax and loosen up. This relaxation helps to alleviate any tension or stiffness that may have built up during your workout.
It helps you relax
After a challenging workout, your mind may feel foggy and fatigued. The sauna can be a powerful tool to clear away the mental cobwebs and enhance your mental clarity.
The heat of the sauna promotes relaxation, helping to calm your mind and ease any mental stress or tension. As your body relaxes, your brain fog begins to dissipate, allowing you to think more clearly and focus better.
Many people find that using a sauna after a workout improves their ability to concentrate and enhances their cognitive function. It’s like giving your brain a refreshing boost, enabling you to tackle tasks with renewed vigor and mental acuity.
Negative effects of sauna after a workout
Sauna after a workout can increase the risk of dehydration
A sauna is hot, and it can make you dehydrated, just like hot weather does. After sweating in a workout and even more in the sauna, it’s important to drink plenty of water before and after.
Sauna May Cause Discomfort
Your body, still coping with the physical demands from the workout, might find the intense heat in a sauna a tad overwhelming. During this transition period, your muscles, heart rate, and body temperature are adjusting back to their normal state. Diving right into a sauna could interrupt this process, causing discomfort and potentially distress. So, ensure you take that necessary break and keep your body well-hydrated for a smoother transition.
Sauna May Temporarily Decrease Sperm Counts
Keep in mind that hitting up the sauna can indeed impact your sperm count. This is because the high temperatures experienced in a sauna can affect your sperm production negatively.
In a study about saunas in Finland, it was found that using the sauna regularly for three months caused a big drop in sperm counts. Even after people stopped going to the sauna, it took another three months for the sperm counts to go back to normal. This suggests that spending a lot of time in saunas might affect how much sperm a person has, and it takes some time for things to get back to normal after stopping.
Who should avoid saunas?
Saunas are good for health, but if you have issues like high blood pressure, heart problems, open wounds, recent injuries, or if you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor before using saunas. Getting advice from a doctor is important to make sure saunas won’t cause any problems for your health.
How long to sit in the sauna after a workout?
After a workout, be cautious not to overdo sauna sessions to prevent the risk of overheating. Stick to around 15 to 20 minutes for a safe and beneficial experience.
Is it better to do a sauna before or after a workout?
While both pre-workout and post-workout saunas offer benefits, many experts recommend using a sauna after the workout. This is because the heat helps relax your muscles, enhances recovery, and promotes a sense of overall well-being. It’s always a good idea to cool down and rehydrate before entering the sauna to avoid excessive strain on your body.
What to wear in the sauna after a workout?
During your sauna session, it’s advisable to avoid tight-fitting clothing and opt for loose-fitting cotton or linen clothing. This allows better air circulation, preventing discomfort. Also, it’s important not to wear items that can be damaged in a sauna due to extremely hot conditions, such as sunglasses, watches, or rings.