One of the most common fitness amenities is a sauna! Whether you’re looking to relax or detox, a sauna is a great place to start. Saunas are utilized to increase blood circulation in the body – better blood flow transports higher volumes of oxygen to your body… thus resulting in quicker replacement of worn-out cells! Not to mention, a sauna’s heat stimulates endorphin production, those feel-good hormones. At Xist Fitness, we have a sauna in both the men’s and women’s locker rooms!
However, there are plenty of questions regarding sauna usage: how long should I stay in the sauna? What are the health benefits of using a sauna? Are there risk factors when using a sauna? Not to worry, we’ve formulated a list of frequently asked questions – and their answers – pertaining to all things sauna!
HOW LONG SHOULD I STAY IN A SAUNA?
If you’re just embarking on your sauna journey, the American College of Sports Medicine (and Xist Fitness) agree… start small! It is imperative to consider your personal health and hydration before entering a sauna.
If you’re just starting to utilize the sauna, keep your time between 5 to 10 minutes at a time. It may seem short, but the moment you start to sweat is the moment your timer starts! If you’re thinking of hitting the sauna after a workout, it is recommended to wait approximately 10 minutes after your workout before entering the sauna. If you’ve been using the sauna for quite some time, then you’ve learned to cap yourself at 15 minutes in the sauna. The longer you stay in the sauna, the bigger the dehydration risk… You could push the time limit to 20 minutes, but this is if you’re well-hydrated! Our rule of thumb, leave the sauna once you begin to feel hot enough. Your body will tell you when it’s time for quitting!
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU STAY TOO LONG IN A SAUNA?
With any sauna usage, you could be risking dehydration. It is imperative that you know your body and your time limit(s) while utilizing a sauna. Higher temperatures do not elicit better results from the sauna. If you stay in a sauna too long, you can risk dehydration, dizziness, and headaches. The moment your body begins to sweat, you’ve begun the healing process.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF A SAUNA?
Saunas are primarily used for relaxation – some may argue that they’re even utilized for socializing! However, using a sauna at the end of your workout (or a stressful workday) can be beneficial for your health!
EXPEL TOXINS. The sauna facilitates the excretion of toxins through sweat via the skin: the body’s largest organ!
INCREASED METABOLISM. The increased temperatures within a sauna will cause you to continue burning calories, even after you’ve completed your workout, and make your heart pump faster! The supercharging of your metabolism will continue for hours after you’ve left the sauna.
ASSISTS IN LOSING WEIGHT. It must be said that you cannot only use the sauna to lose weight… because the ‘weight’ that you are losing is water weight from sweat. That means, that once you start to rehydrate, you are going to gain back the water weight that you just lost. However, the heat from the sauna makes you sweat and drop the extra water stored in your body.
IMPROVES HEART HEALTH. Because your heart is pumping faster, to cool off your body via sweat, your heart is essentially enduring another exercise. By regularly using a sauna, you lessen your chance of heart disease and even dementia.
RELIEVES SORE MUSCLES / AID IN MUSCLE RECOVERY. It’s extremely common to utilize the sauna after your workout; most likely because using a sauna enhances the muscle recovery process! The heat produced by saunas allows your muscles to relax, thus relieving muscle tension. Saunas also increase blood circulation (carrying oxygen-rich blood to the oxygen-depleted muscle) throughout the body.
EASE LOWER BACK PAIN. Far too often, individuals are stationary for the majority of their day. This can put unnecessary strain and pressure on his/her lower back. Utilizing a sauna 2 – 3 times a week is an effective way to bring relief to your lower back!
REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY. Regular sauna usage can reduce stress levels and anxiety! The heat from the sauna allows your muscles to relax, removing the tension you feel from a workout and/or a long workday! Because of this, your body is provided with a stress-free environment that stimulates endorphins.
RELAXATION. Traditionally, saunas have been used to produce a feeling of relaxation… your heart rate goes up, but your blood vessels dilate, allowing for an increase of blood flow to the skin. The heat produced from the sauna can make you more alert, have less pain perception and release endorphins to give you all the feelings of happiness. The heat also relaxes your body’s muscles, including those facial and neck muscles; there’s a good chance these muscles are tense after a long day, plus an amazing workout!
HEALTHIER-LOOKING SKIN. Yes, you read that correctly. Saunas can aid in skin rejuvenation! By sweating in a sauna, you are pulling additional oxygen and nutrients to the skin’s surface and opening your pores to give your skin a clearer look. Because of this, you benefit from healthier-looking skin!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I USE A SAUNA?
Sauna usage is recommended three to four days per week! If you can tolerate four days – maybe, you fluctuate your time(s) in the sauna between 5 – 15 minute intervals – you can use the sauna daily.
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL RISKS OF USING A SAUNA?
Although saunas are generally a safe amenity to utilize almost daily, dehydration is a risk factor. Be sure that you are well hydrated before entering the sauna for more than 5 minutes. Utilizing safety protocol will ensure that you are getting the most out of your sauna usage, in the healthiest way possible!
The health benefits of utilizing a sauna outweigh the minimal risk factors! We suggest you use a sauna well-hydrated and with a good mind-to-body connection!