The practice of using heat therapy dates back thousands of years, and was used by a great many cultures and civilizations, some people claiming as far back as 500 b.c. In Egyptian culture, a person may have used heat therapy to cure an illness or pain. Some cultures such as the Chinese, Japanese, and English were known to use hot springs , while Native people used more of a steam method.
In modern american culture many of us use the sauna or “steam room”, these can be found in many gyms, massage parlors, beauty salons, and becoming increasingly popular at home. So finding access shouldn’t be all that hard!
For most people saunas are entirely safe, but always check with your doctor first! With that out of the way, it is recommended for most people that an individual does between 15-30 minutes a day to see the most benefit from using the sauna. A good sauna will be kept between 150- 180 degrees Fahrenheit, with moisture levels staying between 10-20% and proper drainage to keep said levels. Remember to drink lots of water both before and after using, too much water loss can result in dehydration and drop in essential nutrients/electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, and iron). In order to combat this, in addition to drinking water, I also take supplements for all these and a protein shake right after using sauna and a cold shower.
The benefits from the sauna are crazy, and thanks to researchers in Finland, Japan, and many other countries we have data to suggest the sauna may be as useful in improving workouts . Working out and following it with a 30 minute sauna session has been shown to create some synergistic responses, mainly in the cardiovascular system and with metabolism improving these immensely.
The intense short term heat exposure elevates the body’s external and core temperatures, activating systems within the body. The activation of these systems include increased heart rate, skin blood flow, cardiac out put, sweating , and discrete metabolic change that includes the production of heat shock proteins, reduced oxidative stress, and lower levels of inflammation. In a few studies, researchers even found that some people have had a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s & Dementia, as well as reduced risk of reoccurring headaches.
All in all, the sauna is probably one of the best and most under utilized tools in the gym, its a great way to relax and unwind as well as give your body a much needed boost to its systems.