- The health benefits of a sauna after a workout may include improving cardiovascular fitness.
- Sauna room benefits post workout were greater improvements in aerobic capacity, systolic blood pressure, and cholesterol compared to exercise alone.
- Sauna benefits after a workout may result in enhanced recovery.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF A DRY SAUNA AFTER A WORKOUT
The benefits of sitting in a sauna (i.e., dry heat) after a workout, besides just feeling good, The health benefits of a sauna after a workout have more health benefits than previously thought. Sauna session use has been advocated to reduce risk factors (i.e., improve heart health) and improve cardiovascular fitness in athletes and other disease states, such as heart disease/cardiovascular disease and systolic pressure hypertension.(1-4) New research, as you will read later, suggests that sauna enhances cardiovascular fitness beyond exercising.
The use of a sauna after a workout has been advocated to reduce blood pressure numbers and readings (i.e., high blood pressure), improve the amount of oxygen to tissues, and possibly reduce bad cholesterol.
The Benefits of Sauna
Using a sauna, steam room, and other heated rooms (i.e., infrared sauna) has been shown to induce a greater acute physiological strain and cellular response at a lower relative workload, producing beneficial training adaptations. Infrared sauna therapy has also been shown to augment increases in cardiovascular fitness.(2)
SAUNA BENEFITS AFTER A WORKOUT CAN IMPROVE CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS
Using a sauna after a workout provides additional cardiovascular benefits compared to exercise alone. The latest study in the Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol provides compelling research on the benefits of sauna combined with exercise.(5)
Researchers had 47 participants (i.e., the average age of 49) assigned to three groups: a.) control group, b.) exercise alone, or c.) exercise combined with sauna. The exercise protocol consisted of a combination of resistance exercise (i.e., circuit training) and cardiovascular training (i.e., 65% of their max heart rate and an increase of 5% over the training period every 2 weeks).
Every supervised session included a full-body warmup, followed by resistance, then aerobic exercise. In addition, exercise intensity was progressively increased throughout the eight weeks for both resistance and aerobic exercise.
Sauna use was 15 minutes after exercise at a temperature of 65 degrees C and was increased by 5 degrees C every 2 weeks). The relative humidity of the sauna room was between 10 –20%. At the end of 8 weeks, the exercise group had increased aerobic capacity compared to the control group.
Still, the exercise and sauna group had greater improvements in aerobic capacity, systolic blood pressure, and cholesterol compared to exercise alone. The benefits of hitting the sauna after a workout resulted in greater cardiovascular fitness compared to the exercise group alone.
Dry sauna benefits include improved muscle recovery, muscle soreness, increased blood flow, and heart health has just begun to be explored. Sauna use after workouts favor improving cardiovascular fitness combined with a sauna and intense exercise training. Research suggests that regular sauna use may have a positive impact on your health by improving the circulation of oxygen-rich blood.
The subjects sat in the sauna for 20 minutes after exercise, which can be a meaningful change for people looking to improve cardiovascular health after exercise. Spending time in the sauna post exercise may be a useful strategy for those with a family history of heart disease, heart failure/heart disease (i.e., elevated systolic/diastolic pressure), and those that need to raise good cholesterol. Always consult your doctor before using a sauna if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
- Sitting in sauna after workout for 15-20 minutes is greater than exercise alone.
- The sauna room benefits after a workout were greater cardiovascular fitness and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Health benefits of sitting in sauna after workout may result in enhanced recovery.
- Sauna benefits the day after a workout may have different effects than sauna use immediately after exercise.
2. Ohori T, Nozawa T, Ihori H, Shida T, Sobajima M, Matsuki A, et al. Effect of repeated sauna treatment on exercise tolerance and endothelial function in patients with chronic heart failure. Am J Cardiol. 2012;109(1):100-4.
3. Kirby NV, Lucas SJE, Armstrong OJ, Weaver SR, Lucas RAI. Intermittent post-exercise sauna bathing improves markers of exercise capacity in hot and temperate conditions in trained middle-distance runners. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2021;121(2):621-35.
4. Pizzey FK, Smith EC, Ruediger SL, Keating SE, Askew CD, Coombes JS, et al. The effect of heat therapy on blood pressure and peripheral vascular function: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Exp Physiol. 2021;106(6):1317-34.
5. Lee E, Kolunsarka IA, Kostensalo J, Ahtiainen JP, Haapala EA, Willeit P, et al. The effects of regular sauna bathing in conjunction with exercise on cardiovascular function: A multi-arm randomized controlled trial. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2022.