Heart Health: Effects of Combined Exercise and Sauna Use

Heart Health: Effects of Combined Exercise and Sauna Use

The sauna is for more than just relaxation

Here at Totem Fitness, we love sauna therapy. Our clients often use the sauna sporadically to relax and unwind from stress, but did you know there are also many health benefits from using a sauna regularly? Recent reports reveal that regularly spending time in a sauna can help keep the heart healthy and extend life. It’s rare that something we love to do has health benefits so this definitely caught our attention! In our recent blog, Incorporating Sauna Therapy into Your Wellness Routine, we looked at how sauna therapy is a great activity to integrate into your existing exercise schedule, but today we’re taking a deeper dive into the cardiovascular benefits of sauna use.

Sauna therapy affects your heart like exercise

The World Health Organisation states that one in four adults are not active enough and that quite a large percentage of people globally have at least one risk factor for their heart health. Several studies have shown that combined aerobic exercise and sauna use provide an excellent health boost for you and your heart!

Some would think that when using the sauna, your heart rate would drop as you are not moving around much, but this isn’t the case! Our heart rate and blood pressure rise when inside a sauna, comparable to the effect of a short, moderate workout. Heat is one of the major factors in this, as it causes sweating and acts like a natural diuretic, lowering blood pressure and decreasing the workload of the heart. 

One study in Japan showed patients suffering from chronic heart disease who safely combined repeated sauna therapy and exercise improved their cardiac function. It also showed that regular sauna use helped boost exercise tolerance in patients. 

A different study showed that a 25-minute sauna session reached the same heart rate and blood pressure as going 70 to 100 watts on an exercise bike. This is because both activities make your heart work harder during a shorter period before returning to its original rate.

Sauna therapy reduces your chance of sudden cardiac failure

A study in Finland also discovered that those who use sauna therapy two to three times a week had 22% less chance of passing away from sudden cardiac death, meanwhile, those who used sauna therapy from four to seven times a week had 63% less chance. 

In conclusion, combining sauna therapy and cardiovascular exercise is excellent for your heart, as they both contribute to improved arterial function. As a rule of thumb, the earlier you start taking care of your heart, the better you will fair as you age. 

However, this doesn’t mean you can ditch the gym. While sauna therapy has been shown to have the same impact on your heart as moderate exercise, muscle activity is very important for your body and exercise is the only way to do this.  But after your workout, why not jump in the sauna to both reduce stress and your risk of heart disease.

Remember to always adhere to sauna safety guidelines, and if you’re at all concerned about your cardiac health, chat to your GP before starting a sauna therapy routine. Those with existing issues such as low blood pressure in particular should seek medical advice before heading into sauna therapy. 

Get in touch with Head Trainer, Brendon Patrick, for more information on combining exercise and sauna use to improve your overall health.  


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Heart Health: Effects of Combined Exercise and Sauna Use
July 25, 2019
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