The sauna has been widely used all over the world, especially in colder climates like the Scandinavian countries. In Finland in fact, nearly every home is built with a sauna in it, and for good reason! Saunas provide a myriad health benefits, including muscle recovery, flushing toxins, stimulating blood flow, improving skin health, and they can boost cardiovascular endurance.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the heat. Sitting in the heat of the sauna is incredibly beneficial for your body. The heat triggers what’s called a “Heat Shock Protein” which reacts to temperature extremes and other stressors placed upon the body like injuries. It’s a tool that the body uses in emergency situations which provides a boost in muscle recovery as well as cardiovascular endurance. It’s amazing that you can trick your body into producing more of such a vital tool, just by sitting in a sauna for 15-30 minutes at a time.
The sauna helps your body eliminate toxins. As you heat up in the sauna, vasodilation occurs – our blood vessels open, increasing your blood flow, which help your body process toxins. This also links back to muscle recovery because as you exercise you create a byproduct of energy production called free radicals, which increase stress on the body by disrupting other processes. When you sauna your improved blood flow helps you flush those free radicals and other toxins to your liver to neutralize them.
The sauna has tremendous health benefits for your skin. Deep sweating cleanses the pores of toxins, dead skill cells, and bacteria that build up near the surface of your body. People who sauna regularly often notice a significant reduction in acne.
Lastly, saunas do a great job improving cardiovascular endurance. When you run or do other activities that pose a large toll on the cardiovascular system, your body temperature rises and you sweat. If you sit in the sauna, the same thing happens. You can increase your ability to tolerate heat by regularly exposing yourself to it in the sauna. In turn, you make it easier for your body to withstand the increase in temperature during exercise, thereby increasing your resilience and endurance.
Still not convinced that saunas will change your life? The sauna can even help you burn calories! As the heat of the sauna revs up your bodily functions, your body consumes energy attempting to regulate its temperature. Sitting in a sauna can help you burn an extra 100-200 calories at the end of your workout, as well as boost recovery so you can get back to it sooner and feel better. Try the sauna after your next workout, not only will you feel amazing, you’ll kickstart a cascade of healthy adaptations.