Totem Fitness has recently introduced a sauna, and we’re excited for members to experience all the benefits it can have, especially
for fitness goals.
Originating in Finland two millennia ago, sauna therapy has been recognised throughout its history as a viable means of relaxation. In today’s society, it provides a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Regular sauna sessions are a fantastic way of complementing your exercise efforts and maintaining your wellbeing.
There are an array of saunas out there to choose from, including wood-burning, steam, electrically-heated, and infrared. Temperatures reach anywhere between 40 and 60 degrees Celsius which relax, as well as stimulate function in the body.
Here are the five most notable benefits of sauna use.
1. Increased Circulation
The high temperatures of saunas cause the heart to beat faster which results in the widening of blood vessels. This allows blood to make its way around the body much more freely, therefore increasing circulation. This promotes an array of benefits. FIR saunas, in particular, can activate the neuromuscular system (nervous system and muscles), assisting with muscle soreness. Increased blood flow also improves joint mobility which can be especially beneficial to those suffering from arthritis.
2. Improved Immunity
The intense heat of sauna sessions stimulates energy at a cellular level which leads to an increase in white blood cells, the critical cells of the body that fight off attacking infections and viruses. An important disclaimer for the immunity-boosting effect - like you will find with the other benefits - is that the effects are more prominent in those who exercise regularly versus those who are inconsistent with exercise.
3. Improved Cardiovascular Health
Studies have shown that stress is directly linked to our health and that many diseases, such as heart disease, are at least partially stress-related. Similar to the way exercise releases endorphins, so does sauna heat. This ‘feel good’ hormone works wonders for decreasing stress levels. Consequently, consistent sauna use has the ability to lower the risk of cardiovascular issues later on. Long-term sauna use alongside aerobic exercise is also associated with improved arterial function. However, people who currently suffer from any cardiovascular health issues should consult their physician before sauna use.
4. Assisted Weight Loss
A controversial topic when it comes to saunas is the question of whether they assist in weight loss. When referring to ‘weight loss’ in this instance, the major factor is water weight. Saunas cause the body to profusely sweat, resulting in a considerable loss of water from the body. With that being said, the sweating process itself requires a notable amount of energy, considering the heart rate can increase to anywhere between 100 to 150 beats per minute. This increase must be derived from the body’s energy stores, revealing that you do burn calories whilst in a sauna. Consequently, sauna sessions share similar effects as a brisk walk. However, nothing can replace exercise efforts, and saunas should be used as a way of complementing exercise.
5. Healthier Skin
Saunas are a great way to ‘exercise the skin,’ as well. Deep sweating is known to assist with skin rejuvenation, promoting skin cell turnover and hydration. The removal of bacteria and damaging free-radicals also helps with various skin issues such as acne, psoriasis and eczema, improving the overall health of the skin. When it comes to the more cosmetic benefits, the red light in FIR saunas can stimulate collagen and elastin production, helping to plump the skin and increase firmness.
Thinking of Incorporating the Sauna Into Your Fitness Routine?
Before you get into a regular sauna practice, there are some things to consider. In addition to those suffering from cardiovascular issues, women who are pregnant should also seek medical advice before using a sauna. It is also important to consider any forms of medication you are taking at the time, as some can inhibit sweating.
If you decide to incorporate the sauna into your fitness routine, aim to start off using the sauna 1-2 times a week for 15-20 minutes (if a traditional sauna) and 30-45 minutes (if an IFR sauna). When you feel comfortable, increase this to 2-4 times per week. The general consensus for exercise and saunas is to do your workout beforehand and use the sauna for stretching and wind down. However, there are no stringent rules. Before entering the sauna, remember to cleanse your skin. This will help clear your pores, as well as regulate your body temperature while in the sauna. During the session, stretching is recommended to maximise muscle recovery and circulation of the blood. When the session is over, drink plenty of water and have a healthy meal to replenish the lost fluids and nutrients.
Come try out our new sauna at Totem Fitness and let us know how you go!
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