The Benefits Of Sitting In A Sauna After A Workout

Have you ever noticed how some gyms have saunas? While saunas are typically used for relaxation, there may be other health benefits associated with them. Hopping into a sauna post-workout not only provides relaxation, but it can positively support heart health, decrease blood pressure, and improve circulation (via Healthline).

Saunas can also help alleviate pain, specifically back pain, according to a 2019 study. Researchers explain that the effects of a sauna mimic the effects of other heat therapy sources, such as a heat pack or bath (via Men's Health).

Increased athletic performance and endurance can also be another benefit of saunas. Dr. Ai Mukai, a physical rehab and medicine specialist at Texas Orthopedics, told Healthline that this is because "muscle strength and power seem to increase after sauna use. If you're looking to build strength and power, saunas can help with that." According to a 2021 study, saunas also increase the body's expression of heat shock proteins, which preserve muscle mass and promote immune function.

When it comes to skin health, a sauna can do wonders, since sweating naturally opens up your pores (via Men's Health). The heat from the sauna promotes circulation and boosts the production of the protein collagen. This may leave your skin glowing, but keep in mind this may depend on your skin type and condition.

What are the risks of using a sauna?

If you're comfortable with the heat, adding regular sauna visits after workouts may not be a bad idea, but there are some things to keep in mind. All types of saunas (i.e. wood burning, steam room, etc.) are hot and humid. The intensity may vary depending on the type of sauna, but they all function by overheating the body.

Overheating causes the body to sweat and lose water weight, so the biggest risk here is dehydration (per Healthline). Especially after a sweaty workout session, Dr. Ai Mukai shares that it's important to properly hydrate with fluids, adding in electrolytes for those who plan on an extended sauna session.

While a sauna's ability to lower blood pressure may benefit some, it may pose a risk to others, according to registered dietitian Samantha McKinney, speaking to Men's Health. McKinney said that if you're concerned about your blood pressure (high or low), it's advised to speak with a medical professional before hopping into a sauna. Anytime you're feeling lightheaded or dizzy, that's a subtle cue it's time to leave. As a precaution before entering any sauna, Medical News Today suggests staying hydrated, and limiting your time in the sauna from 5 to 20 minutes.