One of the best feelings once you complete a workout is the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Whether you worked out in the morning and are ready to tackle the day, or you worked out in the evening and are ready to wind down, knowing you knocked out your workout just makes the day feel more complete.
You then hit the shower, put on fresh clothes, and then go on about your day, right?
Well, if that’s been your routine for a long time, we can tell you there’s nothing wrong with that.
But if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your workout and enhance many areas of your health at the same time, we recommend putting aside a few minutes right between the end of your workout and when you hit the shower, for a sauna session.
Keep reading as we go in-depth into why your post-workout routine should always include some time in the sauna.
Let’s dive in.
How to use a sauna after a workout
There can be many benefits to using a sauna after working out, however, it’s important to correctly use the sauna to your advantage post-workout.
Keep your sauna sessions short, no longer than about 20 to 30 minutes. If you are new to using the sauna, try shorter intervals in the 10 to 15-minute range.
Your body is already worn down from your workout, so staying in the sauna for more than the recommended time can cause you to dehydrate and overheat. Those who regularly use saunas can tolerate longer times, but the most important thing is to listen to your body.
If you start feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or have a headache coming on, it’s time to immediately exit the sauna and get some fresh air.
After exiting the sauna, be sure to drink two to four glasses of water to stay hydrated. This will also help flush out the remaining toxins in your body. Saunas cause a lot of sweating and you will need to replenish your fluids afterward.
We also recommend bringing a water bottle inside the sauna so you can stay on top of your hydration. By the time you feel that you’re thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.
After you leave the gym, keep your activity light, however, mild exercise like walking will increase blood flow and help aid the recovery of your muscles.
If you are using a sauna at a gym be sure to follow proper gym sauna etiquette. This includes:
- Showering before entering the sauna
- Not entering the sauna nude
- Respecting others in the sauna
- Not exercising while in the sauna.
Should you use a sauna before a workout?
No, you should not use a sauna before a workout. It may sound like an easy way to “warm up” for your workout, but it can be dangerous.
Saunas increase your chances of dehydration. The heat in the sauna will cause unnecessary sweating before you start exercising and you run the risk of overheating and feeling light-headed during your workout.
Saunas relax your muscles, which is a benefit after your workout but becomes detrimental before a workout. If your muscles are too relaxed for your workout, you run the risk of damaging your muscles or injuring yourself with vigorous exercise.
What are the benefits of a sauna after your workout?
If done correctly, a short 20- to 30-minute sauna session post-workout can have a dramatic positive effect on your health.
The heat from saunas increases your heart rate and blood flow. This means more blood is passed through the heart with less resistance by the arteries and veins, thus lowering blood pressure for increased cardiovascular health.
Many people exercise to improve their cardiovascular health, however finishing a workout in a sauna will prolong the increased heart rate, which further improves cardiovascular benefits.
A sign of a good workout can be how sweaty you are. Sweating helps cool you down during your workout, but it can also help your body release toxins. You can prolong the benefits and even increase your sweating in a sauna post-workout.
The rays from infrared saunas penetrate deep into the skin and help break up water molecule clusters which promotes detoxification or the release of harmful toxins in your body. These harmful elements can include alcohol, nicotine, toxic metals, and more. By removing these harmful elements from your body you are more likely to feel better after your workout.
Working out causes microscopic damage to your muscle fibers which is why you may feel sore after your workouts. This is sometimes referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS and a little soreness is normal.
Have you heard the popular saying, “no pain no gain” before? The damage from working out eventually heals and your muscles get stronger and bigger. However, the soreness after working out can be very uncomfortable and may last days depending on how severe.
Using a sauna after your workout can help reduce the recovery time of your muscles. Saunas help increase blood circulation which carries oxygen-rich blood cells to oxygen-depleted muscles to enhance their recovery. The sauna also helps relieve muscle tension helping your body make the most of its healing abilities.
Lowers Stress Levels
Working out puts your body in a “fight or flight” mode that may last for some time after you get done exercising. By getting into the sauna after your workout, you relieve your body by coaxing it into a parasympathetic state, allowing for your body to de-stress, rest, and heal.
Reducing The Risk of Strokes
Alongside helping alleviate muscle soreness, body detoxification, and many other positive factors, a cohort study published by the Journal of Neurology in 2018 showcases that “middle-aged to elderly men and women who take frequent sauna baths have a substantially reduced risk of new-onset stroke.”
Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Another benefit of sauna use is the improvement of insulin sensitivity. According to a study conducted in 2009 by Mark F McCarty Jorge Barroso-Aranda and Francisco Contreras:
“Regular thermal therapy, using saunas or hot baths, has the potential to improve impaired insulin sensitivity and boost the endothelial expression of the “constitutive” isoform of nitric oxide synthase–effects, analogous to those of aerobic training that should promote vascular health.”
What this tells us next improving insulin sensitivity is that sauna use is comparable in certain effects to actually partake in aerobic activity. Unfortunately, you can’t replace working out with a sauna session, but using both in conjunction with each other can produce some great effects on the body.
Increases Hormone Production
For those wondering if sauna use has any effect on your hormone production, you’re in luck.
According to a study by the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology:
“Eight healthy young men were studied during three periods of heat exposure in a Finnish sauna bath…Plasma noradrenaline increased about 100% at 80 D, 160% at 100 D, and 310% at 80 DH. Adrenaline did not change. Plasma prolactin increased 2-fold at 80 D, 7-fold at 100 D, and 10-fold at 80 DH. Blood concentrations of the beta-endorphin immunoreactivity at 100 D, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) at 100 D and 80 DH, growth hormone at 100 D, and testosterone at 80 DH also increased, but cortisol at 80 D and 100 D decreased.”
What this is ultimately saying is that growth hormone levels within the body were increased, in part due to time in the sauna, how hot the sauna was, and the frequency of sauna use.
Saunas have been around for thousands of years and we understand the many benefits that come with using them. However, that does not mean we know everything yet. Researchers still continue to conduct studies to this day to widen our understanding of how it affects the body and its internal systems.
Based on research and studies, the benefits of using a sauna after a workout are clear.
Taking the time to incorporate a short 20- to 30-minute session after each workout can have a positive effect on one’s health, from muscle recovery to cardiovascular improvements.
Health Mate Saunas is the leading manufacturer of infrared saunas for the home for over 40 years. Our high-quality infrared saunas are made with 100% natural, whole wood that is naturally anti-bacterial and sustainably sourced. For more information on our line of premium infrared saunas, contact us today to see how you can improve your skin, your health, and your life.