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Gyms and fitness centers with saunas are getting increasingly popular these days, and using saunas after working out has become a trendy routine. However, is this habit beneficial for your health? Does it improve your workout results?
The answer to both of these questions is yes. However, it is essential to know the mechanisms through which the magic of saunas happens to get the most out of your workout results. This ultimate guide provides you with everything you need to know about fitness saunas!
What is a fitness sauna?
Any sauna can be used for fitness purposes. Although there are a few types of fitness saunas, they are all generally heated rooms that range in temperature from 120°F to 195°F (50°C to 90°C). Turkish-style saunas produce steam, while Finnish-style ones are “dry.” Sauna users usually spend 15-30 minutes in the sauna, depending on how much heat they can handle. The heat generation method varies among different types of saunas. The most typical types are as follows:
- Burning wood: Wood-burning stoves heat sauna rocks. This method produces high heat and low humidity.
- Electric heaters: The space is heated by an electric heater mounted to the wall or the floor. This method produces high temperatures but minimal humidity.
- Steam: Turkish bathhouses are another name for steam rooms. This method produces low temperatures but very high humidity.
- Infrared: Special infrared heaters produce infrared light waves and directly heat your skin instead of the air inside the cabin. This method has relatively lower yet adjustable heat (typically 140F/65C) and minimal humidity with the same efficiency as the other methods.
All forms of saunas have similar impacts on the body despite varying temperatures and humidity levels.
What are the benefits of a fitness sauna?
Muscular Mass Maintenance and Increase:
According to McKinney, using a sauna not only helps you decompress but may also hasten the achievement of your fitness objectives. Lifting weights is probably a part of your exercise routine if your objective is to gain muscle mass. Iron crushing is a strenuous activity that breaks muscular protein (MPB). Following MPB, your body restores and recreates muscle fibers through muscle protein synthesis since a healthy body constantly seeks homeostasis (MPS).
Human growth hormone and heat shock proteins are the two main chemicals secreted in your body while using a sauna. When your body is exposed to severe environmental circumstances, such as intense heat, it produces heat shock proteins. These proteins act as chaperones during protein synthesis to ensure that the procedure is carried out effectively and correctly by binding to amino acids.
Human growth hormones are responsible for tissue growth and recovery. Unfortunately, your body produces less and less of this chemical as you age. Babies recover from injuries so rapidly, whereas older people bruise easily. It is simpler to gain muscle mass when your body produces more growth hormones.
If you work out before your sauna session, you will benefit more from your sauna. A routine of sauna sessions strengthens your cardiovascular muscles and increases blood circulation, which results in facilitated breathing, inflammation alleviation, and less fatigue. Adding it to an exercise routine helps you have a more intense workout for extended periods and quicker recovery.
Healthy skin signifies a healthy body and complements a fit shape. Sauna therapy is fantastic for your skin regardless of your skin type. Sweating helps with cell rejuvenation and cell regeneration and prevents aging by stimulating mitochondria and collagen production. A routine of sauna sessions leads to cellulite removal and shiny, healthy skin. Active sweating also cleans pores and allows the skin to eliminate toxins, letting your skin breathe and preventing breakouts. It is worth mentioning that public saunas could be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold because of public use, so we encourage you to use private saunas at home to prevent any potential skin infections.
A relaxing sauna session after a workout can fantastically tranquilize your body. Exercising increases cortisol levels, a chemical released in the body under stress. This chemical is terrible for your immune system and your health in general. Relaxing in a sauna helps decrease cortisol levels tremendously. The sudden drop in body temperature after a sauna session helps you have a deeper, more relaxing sleep, preventing fatigue and increasing your energy during the day and for your next workout session.
Inflammation and Pain Relief:
Muscle stiffness and joint pain are prevalent experiences after intense workouts. Sauna therapy is proven to decrease inflammation in the body and can significantly increase the recovery rate, helping you get back to the gym as soon as possible. For those who exercise to help with chronic pain, sauna therapy is a great complement, given that recent studies show promising results of temporary pain relief in individuals with chronic pain after using a sauna. A 2019 study showing that sauna therapy is a helpful strategy for treating lower back pain is a good example.
How to use a fitness sauna for optimal results?
Some sauna users have reported that showering before and after a sauna session helps them sweat more, leading to a more refreshing and energized feeling, smoother skin, and cleaner pores. Showering also increases blood circulation, complementing sauna therapy’s pain and inflammation relief effect. It is important to note that it is better not to use shampoos and gels to wash your body after using the sauna, given that your skin is susceptible after the session, and these products can damage your skin. Simply rinsing your body with water is enough to clean it.
Natural Sauna Bathing
The best way to get the most health advantages from saunas is to go naked in them. The ability of infrared heat to reach your skin and body is hindered by clothing. Painful areas need to be exposed directly to infrared light waves to reduce inflammation as much as possible if you have fibromyalgia, arthritis, or any pain condition.
Wearing clothing in a sauna can prevent sweat from evaporating. The body produces sweat to maintain its natural temperature, and if the sweat doesn’t evaporate, the cooling effect is unsuccessful. Continue the cycle of heat, perspiration, and evaporation, and repeat. Your body can benefit most from the sauna by having as much skin exposed to the air as possible.
How Much Time Should You Spend in the Sauna?
The time you can comfortably spend in a sauna varies based on your heat tolerance, age, and certain health conditions. Sauna users typically spend 10 to 15 minutes in the sauna every time. According to studies, the more frequently you utilize a sauna, the greater the benefits. While 1-2 days a week showed considerable improvement, 3-4 days a week resulted in the best outcome. Consult your doctor to figure out the best regimen of sauna therapy for you.
To maximize the health benefits, stay hydrated.
An hour in the sauna will cause an average person to sweat an amount equal to 16 oz. So, Harvard Medical School recommends you drink 2-4 glasses of cool water after using the sauna and avoid drinking alcohol before or after using it. Consuming tomato juice is also suitable for regaining the potassium lost during perspiration.
To fully benefit from sauna therapy, stretch out your arms and legs right before the sauna to increase blood circulation. This will improve the health benefits, specifically adding to your flexibility and range of motion while providing you with the most pain relief and stiffness reduction.
Best Fitness Saunas in 2022
Make sure you have the ideal sauna to meet your health needs if you want to take full advantage of the therapeutic effects of sauna bathing. Here are a few options we recommend:
This model by FitSauna is a professionally designed infrared sauna, particularly for athletes. It is equipped with a removable bench that can provide a seat for 3-4 users, and when removed, it leaves enough room for one person to train and exercise inside the sauna. It has a 22-inch touchscreen TV that you can use for watching training tutorials while training or playing a movie and relaxing while you lie down on the bench.
Among several training facilities included in this model, we can mention a chin-up bar, yoga mat, “D” rings, bench press, and shoulder pulls. The FitSauna models guarantee the lowest EMF levels on the market, which provide you with a safe infrared sauna experience. The Fitness model should be on your list if you are looking for a professional fitness sauna.
If you want to read more about the Fitness model or purchase it, click here.
Aleko 4 Person 4.5kW
This high-quality sauna by Aleko is one of the most popular models for general use. Still, retaining all the health benefits of traditional saunas while having an infrared construction makes it an affordable yet suitable option for athletic purposes. It is equipped with 20 lbs of lava stone and a 4.5kW heater that deeply penetrates your skin.
Given the CE and ETL certifications, this model is among the safest options on the market. This cabin provides enough space for four persons, so you have enough space to practice hot yoga or stretch in this sauna. It is constructed of hard Hemlock wood, a non-toxic, non-allergic, and odorless wood type that guarantees durability.
If you would like to read more about this model by Aleko or you want to purchase it, click here.
The Evansport model by Sunray is another suitable economy option for fitness lovers. Seven Carbon-Nano FAR infrared heaters are used in this model that use the most recent technology and are more efficient and durable than most of the heaters on the market. The chroma therapy lighting system installed in this sauna helps you regain the energy balance in your body and alleviate your joint pains.
This model also has an Oxygen ionizer system that purifies the air, making it easier to breathe while sweating. The ergonomic backrests provided in this model help alleviate back pain and inflammation in back muscles due to intense workouts. The high-quality non-toxic Hemlock wood construction and the 7-year structural warranty ensure a long-lasting fitness sauna experience.
If you want to read more about the Evansport model or purchase it, click here.
Ask an Expert
Sauna therapy after a workout will improve muscle building and decrease muscle inflammation and soreness. Also, it will help you to improve your health by strengthening your heart and sweating. It will relieve your back pain too. Try to shower before and after a sauna session, stretch out in the sauna, and use it for 10 to 15 minutes. It is preferred to be fully naked.