“When I’m dripping with sweat, I feel badass.” is just one of the many quotations you can find on the internet when you look up gym inspirational quotes. Sweat is the body’s sweet reward for people working out hard at the gym. It gives them visual proof that their gym routines are working. It is like skincare, but with a lot of sweat and sore muscles. And most gym-goers just go straight home after an intense workout. That’s just it for them, they sweat out, they cool down, and they go home. Little do they know that after hustling and bustling in the gym to lose weight, there is one facility they do not care for or dared to try that might actually help them lose more pounds, the sauna.
But the question is, is going to a sauna after a workout to lose weight good and safe for you?
You can get benefits from a sauna, both psychologically and physically, but more on the latter. And you can get the same benefits of exercising by just basking in a hot sauna. Five to 20 minutes in a sauna is enough to trick your body into thinking that you’re still working out, that would elevate your heart rate to 150bpm, and then your body temperature will go up and you will start sweating. Then your body will start releasing not only endorphins but also growth hormones.
Before we go into the health benefits that sauna gives, let’s talk about the types of saunas first and how long you should be in one.
There are a few types of saunas that might work for you depending on your heat tolerance. But generally, a room with a temperature between 150 degrees Fahrenheit and 195 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celcius and 90 degrees Celcius) can be considered a sauna.
A wood-burning sauna is a type of sauna that uses wood in stoves to heat stones or rocks and usually has a 10-20 humidity percentage which means it is high in heat, but low in humidity.
An electrically heated sauna has an electric heater attached to the wall or on the floor and that provides the heat to the room.
Steam rooms/saunas which are also called “Turkish bathhouses” get their heat from steam. Although the temperature is low in this one, the humidity in it is 100 percent.
IR (Infrared) sauna on the other hand uses specialized lamps to create heat out of lights, this will directly heat up your body without causing a temperature change in your surroundings. IR sauna has usually a lower temperature than a conventional sauna, only around 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celcius), but it still gives the same health benefits as the conventional ones. And with that, despite the variations in temperature, all types of saunas provide the same health benefits to the body.
Now, let’s talk about how long you should stay in a sauna after working out.
First of all, you should always get hydrated. The longer you bask in a sauna, the more at risk you become of dehydration. Saunas are there for a reason: relaxation, like what people assume. So if you start getting headaches and other signs of dehydration, you should get out immediately and cool your body down. Your body’s exposure to a warm temperature causes it to sweat, especially when overheated. That means your body is losing more fluids than it’s taking in. So, given the fact that you have been sweating out from your workout prior to getting into a sauna, the risk of dehydration is high and real, so you should always be careful. Drinking a lot of water or electrolyte drinks while in the sauna and afterward would be a great way to prevent dehydration. Doing that replenishes the amount of fluids your body loses due to sweating. There are signs that indicate severe dehydration, including extreme thirst, feeling dizzy and lightheaded, a feeling of dryness in your mouth, and not urinating as much as you normally would. You have to watch out for these signs to reduce your risk of being severely dehydrated.
Before trying out a sauna for the first time, adults with comorbidities such as heart failure, kidney diseases, and diabetes should consult their doctors first. That also applies to pregnant women.
If you have never tried a sauna before, you should start small and build up from there. Just use the sauna for 5 to 10 minutes but wait 10 minutes before going in after working out.
Contrary to the popular belief that a sauna is just for relaxation, using it after working out actually is greatly beneficial to your body.
Sitting in a sauna causes your heart rate to elevate slightly, thus making you burn calories. Although this only has a small effect on your overall body weight, a few calories burned is still a weight loss, right? Here we go over the amount of weight you can lose using a sauna.
This, however, can make you lose a massive amount of water weight. But as mentioned, losing a lot of fluids is dangerous unless you make an effort to actually re-hydrating while chilling in the sauna.
A physical medicine and rehab specialist from the Texas Orthopedics, Dr. Ai Mukai, said that saunas help with fatigue and pain from people who suffer from fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions of the same nature. Frequent sauna use can also help improve heart health for people with heart failure.
Sweating in a sauna is also a great way to detoxify your body. Cleaning your lymphatic system by flushing out the toxins in your body through sweating will not only boost your immune system but will also help you get rid of some fats in your body and give you a ton more energy so you can exercise more.
The sauna will also help you fall asleep faster and keep you asleep until the morning after. Relieving stress that usually comes from a rough day. It might also give you a boost of energy that you normally get from coffee and the likes that always contain massive amounts of sugar, which is bad for you.
These are only some of the health benefits you get from using a sauna, either after a workout or a day of running errands. And you don’t have to jump in right away and stay in a sauna until you turn into a raisin. Start off slowly. Take your time. It’s always there to welcome you on your weight-loss journey.
Also, here are some common questions about sauna use and weight loss.
Sources: https://www.bicycling.com/health-nutrition/a22692451/benefits-of-a-sauna/ https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness/sauna-after-workout https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-in-a-sauna https://www.openfit.com/sauna-after-workout-benefits/amp https://thatcherpools.com/uncategorized/sauna/
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