Exercising While In A Sauna: Good Or Bad Idea?

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For thousands of years, saunas have been used and popular today. With the recent trend of engaging in hot yoga and exercises in sauna rooms, quite a number of people have begun to wonder if it’s a good or bad idea. This results from the fantastic benefits that spending time in a sauna offers.

Exercising in a Sauna is only a good idea if you do moderate exercises such as yoga or pilates. Doing much more can cause injuries. Since sauna use is already a mild cardiovascular workout, it’s not appropriate to do another extreme high-impact workout on top of that, so, keep it slow.

While exercising in a sauna, staying hydrated, listening to your body, being aware of the risks involved, and taking things slow are essential. Pregnant women and people with cardiovascular problems should not exercise while in a sauna. Saunas on their offer tremendous benefits to the human body. In the rest of this piece, we will discuss the effects of exercising in a sauna and if it is a good or bad idea.    

Can You Exercise in a Sauna?

Woman sitting in a sauna meditating - Smaller

Many believe that exercising in a hot room poses a challenge to the body and mind, and it also increases the benefit of the activity. Performing hot yoga and combining fitness with sauna level temperature is a recent trend that has been adopted by many.

Some experts believe that additional heat in exercises is not entirely wrong. However, it is essential to note that heat has an intense impact on the body, and it can be severe for a body that’s not used to this kind of exposure.

Heat and Exercise In General

Alone, infrared saunas avail the body of tremendous health benefits such as strengthening the immune system and the heart and ultimately increasing the body’s overall metabolism.

Infrared heat has proven to help reduce stress, increase flexibility, and increase focus and energy. In an infrared sauna, one sits there, and without doing anything, the heart rate is already high, and the body’s cardiovascular status is similar to that of a person jogging.

Now, imagine adding exercise to that. Your guess is right! You would be increasing these effects and their impacts, which can be a fantastic thing for most people. However, for some people, caution is of necessity. Exercising in heat will increase the workload on the body’s cardiovascular system.

Children, pregnant women, and people with heart conditions or conditions that prevent the normal sweating process should not engage in sauna workouts. This is not to say that this group of people cannot enjoy saunas and a heated environment; however, exercising in them would be a risk.

What Types of Exercises are Appropriate in a Sauna?

One can exercise in a sauna; however, one should only engage in moderate exercises such as yoga, tai chi, barre, and pilates. Workouts in the sauna should limit movements as much as possible.

Your body is already under stress in extreme heat; you don’t want to add tough and heavy weight lifting exercises to it. Anyone can overstress themselves easily by doing this. Exposing yourself to regular sauna workouts can also prove to be too stressful on the body, resulting in an incident.

Sweating is also an important factor to bear in mind as it can pose a risk when it is excessive. Excessive sweating poses a risk because we do not lose water alone; we also lose electrolytes when sweating.

Exercising in a sauna will increase your sweat, and as such, staying hydrated should be given priority. Ultimately, exercising in a sauna boils down to being aware of the risks involved, listening to your body, taking it slow, and staying hydrated.

Saunas AFTER a Workout are Even Better.

Saunas have proven to offer amazing benefits to those who use them over time. It has, however, been discovered that engaging in saunas after workouts can produce even better results.

Have you ever wondered why many gyms include a sauna room and even offer their members after the workout. This is because saunas, after a workout, can leave you healthier and fitter. The amazing benefits of engaging in saunas after a workout offer include the following;

Muscle Recovery

Engaging in a tough workout can result in sore muscles over the next few days. Sore muscles are no joke, and they can slow down your fitness journey, especially when it keeps you out of the gym.

While there are many great ways to reduce this muscle soreness, saunas can help. What saunas do is increase circulation, which consequently brings more oxygen-rich blood to depleted muscles and this, in turn, promotes muscle recovery.

Relieves Muscle Tension

A great way to relax your muscles and ultimately reduce tension is the application of heat. A study was conducted in 2015, and subjects were divided into two groups.

It was discovered that the first group that spent time in a sauna before engaging in wrist exercise experienced less pain compared to the second group that did not stay in a sauna.

Weight Loss

It is still being argued if spending time in the sauna can help you shed real pounds. Getting on a scale before spending time in a sauna and after will most likely reveal a lower number.

Bear in mind, however, that any immediate weight loss after spending time in a sauna is a result of water loss. In a study conducted by Binghamton University, it was revealed that people who used sauna three times a week for 45 minutes each time lost up to 4 percent of their body fat over four months.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

Although, spending time in a sauna is not recommended for people with cardiovascular problems. However, it has been discovered that spending time in a sauna improves overall cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Provides Relief from Stress

No doubt that spending time in a sauna is relaxing, enjoyable, and meditative. A deep sense of relief is one of the immediate benefits of a sauna that you will experience when you settle on a wooden bench and feel heat envelop you.

As your muscles’ tension relaxes, what you notice next is your stress gradually leaving you.

What is a Sauna?

Wooden outdoor sauna by the lake in summer

Saunas are small and enclosed rooms often heated from about 70⁰C to 100⁰C. These rooms are often unpainted, lined with woods, and have different benches, seating, designs, and capacity options.

The extreme heat generated within saunas provides deep relaxation, improves cardiovascular health, and also provides relief from aches and pain.

Saunas are of different types, and these differences result from the different ways the room is heated. The different types of sauna include wood-burning, electrically heated, infrared rooms, and steam rooms.

How do Saunas Work?

The intense heat in saunas helps to provide what is referred to as a “bath from inside out.” This encourages perspiration and relief from stress, aches, and pain.

It also promotes deep relaxation and improves overall cardiovascular health. There are two types of saunas commonly used today: the traditional sauna and the modern sauna (also referred to as infrared sauna).

Traditional saunas make use of a wood-burning fire to heat the room. Here, the air is heated to warm the body. Its average temperature is between 180 to 195⁰F. This method has proved to be very effective for treating dry heat.

A chimney must sit over the fire to keep smoke and eye irritants out of the sauna when using this. It, however, takes a long time to heat the sauna room. It might even take the whole day, depending on the design and size of the sauna.

Modern saunas, also known as infrared saunas, are designed for indoor use. The optimum temperature is between 125 to 130⁰F, which is much lower than traditional saunas. Infrared technology employed by modern saunas can be used in two different ways.

First, it can be used to heat objects inside the sauna room. Usually, these objects include; charcoals or special rocks. They are placed in the center side of the room and are also heated to extreme temperatures. It is essential to use the right type of rocks as they won’t crack or show any issues under the strain of extreme temperatures. They can also heat the whole room quickly with dry heat. Other objects can be used. However, most saunas prefer charcoal or rocks.

The second way infrared technology is used in saunas is to heat people in the sauna directly by using infrared lights. This penetrates the body straight and, as such, raises the core body temperature and, in turn, activates more intense sweating.

It is also important to note that saunas are usually made from cedar wood or other high-quality hardwood. Tiles, metals, and plastics won’t be appropriate for saunas as the temperature gets too hot. Hence, wood must be used as it absorbs heat and, at the same time, remains cool to touch.

Another amazing benefit of using cedarwood for saunas is the rich scent of the wood. It is pretty easy to tell an old sauna house, and this is because of the strong and rich scent that will come from the woods even when the room is not heated.

Heating the room now helps produce a strong and intoxicating smell of the cedarwood. This, in turn, produces complete relaxation for those inside the sauna room.