I'm sure that many of you, who have been to a gym before, know about what sauna rooms are all about. But just to make the concept clear before we jump into the sauna benefits after workout, a sauna is a small room specifically designed to heat up at very high temperatures; the humidity level however is controlled. The room itself is made up of aromatic wood that releases pleasing scent as it heats up.
Today, you will find two distinct types of saunas: wet and dry. The wet saunas are more commonly known as steam sauna rooms where the temperatures are lower than the dry saunas. For dry saunas, the temperatures are high, up to 250°F, and keeps an ambient moisture down so that the skin doesn't burn. Now that we have taken a quick look at what saunas are, let's venture on towards the benefits of sauna once you've finished your workout.
Effects of Sauna
The most obvious benefits come from the heat source. Your skin, the largest organ in the body, is affected most from this heat. It causes the blood vessels to dilate and increase the demand of blood to the skin. When the volume of blood vessels and the blood increases, your body's blood pressure drops, causing your heart to beat faster and more efficiently. This is one of the best benefits after a workout; you're getting a mild cardiovascular exercise (similar to walking) just by sitting inside the room.
Ever heard of sauna being capable of detoxing your body? Well, it's true. Let me explain how the detoxification works. As our body temperature increases, so does its capability to kill bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson, associate of the International College of Bio-Nutrition and National Board of Examiners, states that "...heating the body several degrees causes greatly increased circulation as the body attempts to maintain its basal temperature. This helps to dislodge toxins, especially from hard-to-reach areas such as teeth, bones, and sinuses..."
During and after a grueling workout, we tend to sweat a lot. Well, the heat in the sauna room works similarly. As the heat makes our body to sweat profusely, our body eliminates toxins which might be present and help stimulate proper organ functioning. Muscles start to relax (free of tension and stress), specifically the ones which you worked on during exercises, once the blood flow increases and the distribution of oxygen occurs. Also, this means you can significantly reduce the chances of getting cramps in your muscles. These were some of the physiological benefits. Now let's move on to the more physical benefits of sauna.
Physical Benefits of Sauna
Saunas have been long used for therapeutic reasons as it relaxes and de-stresses you. With today's world filled with stressful working hours and unbelievable workload, it wouldn't be so bad to reap the benefits. But besides these rejuvenating experiences, taking a sauna on a regular basis helps other physical aspects in our body. These health benefits of sauna are:
- When you are on a weight loss program, taking a sauna will help you lose weight. As we sweat while in the sauna, we can drop the weight in pounds as it takes some of the water out. Just remember to drink some fluids right after coming out of the sauna.
- Saunas are an important part of skin treatment. As our skin gets clogged due to acne, blackheads, and pimples, the heat unclogs the pores and sweats out the toxins. Sitting in the sauna after a workout can help eliminate dead skin cells and expose new layers of skin. You will have a younger looking skin in no time.
- Sauna bathing helps burn fat deposits. It gets removed from the muscles and makes room for newly-formed muscle cells. By increasing the body's metabolic process, you burn more calories (including the ones when you worked out).
How to Use a Sauna
Of course, there is a wrong method or approach to use a sauna and then, there's the correct method. In order to reap the benefits, you should know exactly how a sauna should be used. Here are the steps.
- You need to drink at least 30 to 32 oz. of water before you enter the sauna room. This way, you won't get dehydrated once inside.
- Stay in the sauna for about 15 minutes; maximum 20 minutes. Anything more than that amount of time is inadvisable.
- Wrap a towel around your body and sit comfortably. Breathe normally and try to relax.
- There are times when people become too anxious or begin to hyperventilate once inside. If you experience any of these things, leave the sauna room immediately.
- After the session is over, dry yourself properly and drink some water; about 3 cups of water.
- Stretch your muscles a bit and rest for a little while.
- Use the sauna only 2 or 3 times a week.
Few more helpful tips before we end the article; don't drink alcohol or consume any drugs before and while you're inside the sauna room. Leave the sauna room after 20 minutes, take some rest afterward, and try to cool down. Last, but not the least, always consult your doctor about the health benefits of sauna before you get inside one.