Anyone who has ever ventured into the average gym has likely noticed the presence of one or more saunas. While these Finnish traditions can be traced back for centuries, their modern benefits are just as important to appreciate.
Saunas are able to offer a host of health-conscious advantages and if you hope to take full advantage of what they have to offer, it is a good idea to take a quick look at what you can expect to enjoy if you incorporate these steamy sensations into your regular exercise regimen.
Perhaps the most well-known property associated with saunas is their ability to relieve stress. However, there is a bit more than meets the eye here. We are not only referring to mental and emotional stress in this sense. During times of exertion (such as a high-intensity training session or a long day at work), the body produces a hormone known as cortisol. Excessive levels of cortisol have been associated with a number of health risks such as diabetes, weight gain and hypertension. Regular visits to the sauna will help moderate these levels.
A Healthy Heart
Cardiovascular health should also not be overlooked. The higher temperatures found within a typical sauna cause your blood vessels to dilate (expand). As a result, this can help to significantly lower your blood pressure. Also, your circulation will increase due to a heightened heart rate. This provides your body with immediate access to vital nutrients and oxygen; all beneficial in terms of your health.
Post-Workout Muscular Recovery
Thanks to the increased levels of circulation mentioned above, saunas are also excellent means to help speed up musculoskeletal recovery. An increased blood flow serves two main purposes. First, it removes toxins such as lactic acid that have accumulated within the muscles. Secondly, this heightened circulation provides your muscles with the vital nutrients (such as oxygen, water and creatinine) that are required to promote healing.
It only makes sense that we touch upon the subject of insulin sensitivity due to the fact that a growing number of individuals are now suffering from adult-onset diabetes. Saunas have been shown to lessen the resistance to insulin in laboratory studies. This is caused by body temperatures rising far above average; enabling the body to more efficiently metabolise insulin. Furthermore, properly regulated insulation has been attributed to higher rates of lean muscle growth. In other words, anyone looking to gain a bit of mass should hit the sauna for between 15 and 30 minutes after a training session.
All About Detox Benefits
Thanks to the information already presented above, it only stands to reason that regular sauna sessions can help your body to detoxify in a natural manner. Sweating is the body’s method of eliminating toxins from its system in order to achieve a balanced state known as homeostasis. Sweating is also an excellent way to open up the pores of your skin; one of the reasons why saunas are often recommended to those who may be suffering from acne.
Increased GH Production
Athletes who are keen on enhancing their current levels of performance, losing body fat or gaining lean mass will likewise be happy to learn that saunas have been shown to increase levels of growth hormone by up to 500 per cent when compared to nominal conditions. This is an obvious benefit after any high-intensity training session.
Putting It All Together
Notwithstanding the impressive advantages mentioned above, here are a handful of other health-boosting benefits which can be associated with saunas:
- A reduction in the chances of developing fatal coronary heart disease
- An improved functionality of the left ventricle of the heart (directly related to lower blood pressure)
- Lower incidences of strokes
- Reduced levels of inflammation; potentially helping to alleviate the symptoms associated with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
So, it is clear that sweating it out in a sauna will provide a surprising number of health benefits. It is still important to mention that anyone with an existing heart condition should always consult with their physician before changing the current exercise regimen or incorporating saunas into their routine.
Next generation personal trainer and co-founder of Trion