A sauna is a refreshing activity for the body, especially after a workout. For thousands of years, people have used saunas for relaxation and fun. But these days it is more than a nice body treat. Instead, people implement sauna bathing after their workout sessions and get better results from their training. If you’re actively working out but doubting whether the after-workout sauna is the right idea then this article is your answer. Here we’re going to disclose the top 5 excellent benefits of sauna after workout and possible pitfalls (spoiler alert, there are a few). Please note, that sauna bathing is not an option for people with heart issues or low blood pressure. That’s why it’s best to consult a specialist before immersing in the relaxing sauna experience.
What Are The Different Types Of Sauna Heat?
Sauna is a room heated at a high temperature of between 70° to 100° Celsius or 158° to 212° Fahrenheit. Finnish saunas are considered to be the most common and popular. They use dry heat with a medium humidity between 10 to 20 percent.
Other types of saunas include a higher level of moisture. For instance, Turkish-style saunas provide clients with a more humid experience.
When using a sauna, a person’s skin temperature rises to 40° Celsius or 104° Fahrenheit. Thus,you sweat heavily and your heart rate rises as your body tries to keep cool. That’s why people lose a lot of sweat in saunas and need to replenish before and after sauna bathing.
There are four types of saunas:
- Wood burning (dry): heat is created by burning wood. Finnish traditional sauna uses burning wood to heat the sauna rocks and sauna room. Wood-burning saunas are usually high in temperature and low in humidity (3).
- Electrically heated (dry): Similar to wood-burning saunas but this time the heat is created by the electrical heater, attached to the floor. This type of sauna is also low in humidity and high in temperature.
- Infrared room: Far-infrared saunas (FIRS) use light to heat the person’s body directly instead of heating the whole room (4). The temperature here is typically lower than in other saunas, but the person sweats similarly. The usual temperature of the infrared sauna is about 60° Celsius. That’s why they are good for beginners.
- Steam room: Also called “Turkish bath houses”, they are different from the aforementioned saunas. Temperatures are low and the humidity is high, at 100 percent which makes the room “foggy”.
What Are The Benefits Of A Sauna After A Workout?
Using a sauna in your workout routine is an excellent idea only after checking with your healthcare provider. Health benefits of sauna after a workout help you unwind and reboot your muscle strength.
Let’s dive into the top 5 essential benefits of sitting in a sauna after a workout:
Benefit #1 You’ll Reduce Your Blood Pressure
Studies have connected sauna use to reduced blood pressure and lowered risks of high blood pressure. However, it’s still unclear whether saunas benefit blood pressure in the long term or just temporarily (5).
Benefit #2 You May Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
Sauna bathing is linked to reducing stress which lowers the risk of cardiovascular events.
Therefore, people who increased their use of sauna bathing lowered their risks of fatal cardiovascular-related diseases.
Participants who used the sauna two to three times a week were 22 percent less exposed to sudden cardiac death compared to those who only used it once a week.
Benefit #3 You’ll Promote Your Lung Functioning
There are positive effects of sauna bathing on people with pulmonary disease (lung disease). The study found that saunas help to ease or prevent colds, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and asthma.
There is also evidence that saunas might help with
- musculoskeletal disorders
- headache disorders
- chronic tension (5).
Benefit #4 You’ll Reduce Your Stress
This is one of the best effects of a sauna after workout. Imagine you finished a 1-hour intensive training. You’re exhausted, barely breathe and feel like your body needs some rejuvenation.
Using a sauna is an effective way to unwind before heading to your home. The sauna heat promotes circulation which improves relaxation. Plus, sitting in the sauna gives you the opportunity to practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing. The right breathing can help you reap the benefits of your exercises.
Benefit #5 Your Muscles Will Recover
The biggest boon of hitting a sauna after the workout is your muscle recovery. Here Infrared saunas play the leading part. They are linked to post-workout muscle soreness and may ease the pain in the whole body. The heat evoked from the sauna enhances the circulation of nutrient-rich and oxygen blood throughout your body. Thus, it helps damaged muscles to repair, so you can get back on the saddle faster.
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What Does The Sauna Do After A Workout?
The aforementioned benefits of sitting in a sauna after a workout demonstrate certain positive effects of the sauna on your body:
- It may enhance your muscle recovery. After training, your muscles need the wrap-up activities to recover and gain enough “fuel” for future exercises. Thus, sauna bathing promotes this process since the heat from the sauna evokes better circulation throughout your body. This helps your tense muscles to relax.
- It may reduce stress. Let’s face it your body loves working out but it is a stressful activity. Therefore, a sauna is a good way to relieve stress and elicit positive feelings.
- It may help your breathing. Every workout buff knows how important breathing techniques are during training. Staying in the sauna can help you improve your breathing therefore making it more regulative during the workout.
Is A Sauna Good After A Workout?
Yes, the sauna is a must-choice after the workout training only under the recommendation of your healthcare provider. In this case, you’ll get a bunch of essential health benefits, such as promoting heart health, muscle recovery, lowered blood pressure, reduced stress, and more regulated breathing.
Still, you should be well-prepared for the sauna bathing by:
- Getting hydrated. Drink at least eight ounces of water before stepping into the sauna. Then sip a bit of water once you’re inside and once you get out. Dehydration may lead to dizziness and headaches. That‘s why it’s important to get prepared.
- Watching the clock. If you’re new to sauna bathing then stay there for 10 minutes or less. More experienced sauna attendants may stay more than 10 minutes but less than 20 minutes.
- Turning off your devices and staying calm. This is more connected to the etiquette of sauna procedures. Remember to stay cool and relaxed instead of burdening people with small talk or your phone notifications.
Should I Use The Sauna After A Workout?
It’s up to you to decide whether you should use a sauna after a workout or not. Yes, mixing the sauna with your workout sessions can speed up your body’s transformation due to its effective benefits.
Your body will relax, your breathing will regulate, and your stress after the workout will reduce. Nonetheless, consulting a specialist would be a great idea. Moreover, due to dehydration and extreme heat there are types of people who should use the sauna with extreme care or avoid it:
- Older people. People over 65 should be wary of heat stroke in the sauna.
- Children under the age of seven. The internal temperature system in very young children is less developed which makes them more susceptible to heatstroke than adults (5).
- Pregnant women. Pregnant women should be wary of dizziness, overheating, and dehydration.
- People with seizure disorders. Seizure disorders may interfere with the body’s temperature. That’s why you should avoid going to the saunas if you’re diagnosed with seizures.
- People with heart problems. If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart disease then hitting the sauna is not a good option for you.
With that in mind, you can use the sauna after the workout if your doctor gives you that permission. People who neglect to contact a healthcare specialist usually face negative consequences from the sauna treatment.
What Are The Negative Effects Of Sauna?
You’ve learned the possible sauna benefits after working out but as was mentioned at the beginning of this article there are certain pitfalls you should be aware of.
The first risk lies in dehydration. It results from fluid loss while sweating. People with kidney disease are more susceptible to dehydration. Moreover, dehydration may lead to nausea and dizziness. Having water before, during, and after sauna bathing can reduce this problem.
The second risk lies in blood pressure. This is especially applicable to people with low blood pressure or those who’ve had a heart attack. The point is that switching the heat in the sauna can raise blood pressure. You stay in the heat and then jump into the cold pool. Your body temperature goes through drastic changes which is okay for healthy people. But those who have consistent heart disease or even mild heart failure may have more stress from the temperature variations.
The third risk is connected to men. The high temperatures in saunas can cause a temporary reduction in sperm count (2). The reason is that testicles are sensitive to heat and the extended high temperature can lower sperm function and motility.
No matter whether you’re healthy or suffer from health conditions, you need to consult a doctor before trying the sauna treatment.
Are There Benefits Of Sauna Before Workout?
Starting the workout with the warm-up activity is the essential procedure. But some people may find the sauna a great substitution for the warm-up. However, the benefits of a sauna before working out are still questionable.
Even though a light sauna helps you warm up your body and loosen up your muscles, it doesn’t replace stretching.
Besides, you’ll get overheated and therefore tired from the sauna. Consequently, you may be exhausted before your workout session and won’t be able to push your muscles to the fullest. You should be invigorated before the workout and the sauna will make you relaxed instead.
Switch to a typical warm-up activity and hit the sauna after working out. It will make you energetic enough and prepare your body for the workout session.
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What Are The Common Myths About Saunas?
There are proven benefits of sauna but there are those who talk of more benefits to spice things up. Here two major myths about the sauna procedure:
- Sweating removes toxins. Some people believe that sweating during the sauna can detoxify the body. However, no scientifically proven evidence confirms this process. Kidneys, liver, and intestines remove such toxins as alcohol, aluminum, and mercury (3).
- Sauna promotes weight loss. The most common myth that allures people to try out sauna. Yes, you lose weight, but this is the fluid loss and not your fat. The weight will be replaced as soon as you drink or eat something (3).
In this article, you’ve learned about the top 5 excellent benefits of sauna after workout. Sauna promotes muscle recovery, reduces stress levels, enhances lung functioning, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart health.
There are four types of saunas: wood burning, electrically heated, steam room, and infrared room.
There are also drawbacks to using a sauna, such as dehydration, high blood pressure (in people with blood pressure and heart conditions), and reduced sperm count.
Replacing the warm-up activity with a sauna before the workout is not a good idea because your body will get overheated and too relaxed.
People are advised to contact a healthcare provider before sauna bathing.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events (2015, jamanetwork.com)
- Seminal and molecular evidence that sauna exposure affects human spermatogenesis (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What are the benefits and risks of a sauna? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What is an infrared sauna? Does it have health benefits? (2022, mayoclinic.org)
- What to Know About Saunas and Your Health (2021, webmd.com)