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Six reasons to combine sauna and sport

Using the sauna after sports

Sauna and sports have always been linked. For many amateur or professional athletes, sweating in the sauna is an important part of the training program. Combining sauna and exercise is more beneficial than you might think. In addition to the obvious fact that relaxing in a steam room after exertion is simply pleasant, scientific studies confirm that regular sauna use increases endurance, performance and helps the body recover after exercise.


This article explains how using a sauna affects your body's physical condition and why it is worth adding it to your routine. We will highlight the benefits that have been scientifically proven through various studies.

#1 The sauna helps muscles recover


A hot sauna after exercise improves muscle metabolism and helps them recover faster.

The body is affected by the heat experienced in the sauna. Due to its effect, blood vessels expand, heart rate increases and blood circulation accelerates. As a result of good blood supply, more oxygen circulates in the body, which helps muscle cells break down nutrients and obtain the necessary energy. Due to heat, the level of the steroid hormone cortisol in the body increases, and the amount of glucose, the main source of energy for cells, increases in the muscles. An active metabolism occurs in the muscles, which helps recover from post-exercise exhaustion.

Some studies also confirm that sauna air contributes to recovery. When water is poured on the stones, the proportion of useful air particles, negative ions, in the air increases. These have been found to affect the composition of our blood plasma when they reach the blood through the lungs. Among other things, these particles reduce the lactic acid content in the blood, which makes the muscles less painful.


#2 Reduces muscle tension and pain


Sports doctors recommend taking a sauna after training, as the heat helps relax muscles and speeds up injury recovery.

As already mentioned, blood vessels dilate and blood flow increases when you are in the sauna. This stimulates cellular metabolism, helps remove metabolic waste and carbon dioxide accumulated during the day from the muscles.

Sauna heat reduces inflammatory reactions and has a relaxing effect on the joints, blood vessels and nervous system. The muscles become more elastic and less painful. The sauna is also recommended, for example, for the treatment of joint inflammation, osteoarthritis and rheumatism, to relieve pain in soft tissues (fibromyalgia) and headaches.


#3 Increase resistance


The sauna has a similar effect on the body as light exercise.

The blood vessels of the person sitting on the sauna bench expand, blood pressure decreases and the heart beats faster. The heart rate increases to 100 and even 180 beats per minute when staying in a hot sauna for a long time. Even though we are standing still, calories are burned and the load on the body is comparable to walking fast or jumping rope. If you are just starting your workouts, regular sauna sessions will definitely add an extra boost to your stamina and help you get fit.

However, it must be remembered that sauna alone is not enough to achieve athletic fitness. Don't overdo it by sitting in the hot steam room and make sure you drink enough water.


#4 The sauna helps improve athletic performance


The sauna trains the muscles to tire less and exercise intensely even after the body temperature rises.

When we exercise, our body temperature rises and after a while we feel like we lack energy. The brain sends signals to the body that it is time to stop exercising, as there is a risk of overheating. Electrical signals in the muscles decrease and energy supply decreases.

However, using a sauna regularly trains the body to better tolerate both external heat and the heat that accompanies physical activity. The temperature rises, but the muscles can continue to exert themselves. The same applies to both the internal heat of our body and the heat of the external environment.


For example, before competing in a tropical climate, athletes should undergo about a week of sauna therapy to better adapt their bodies.


Frequent and regular sauna sessions also increase overall physical endurance. More oxygen flows to your muscles, and the energy generated by burning it helps your muscles work harder and longer. The sauna effect remains in the body for a longer period of time and improves the athletic performance of the body.


#5 Lung volume and overall lung capacity increase


The sauna relaxes the muscles of the airways, increases lung volume and overall lung capacity.

Studies have shown that the hot, humid air of the sauna reduces oxidative stress and decreases inflammatory reactions. It has also been found that sauna heat reduces bronchial swelling, has a good effect on lung tissues and dilates lung passages. We are forced to breathe deeply and calmly when sitting on the sauna bench. This contributes to relaxation, exercises the lungs and helps increase the body's oxygen stores. For a healing sauna experience, it is important that the steam room has good ventilation and fresh, oxygen-rich air.


This is especially important for runners who want to strengthen their endurance or improve their pace.


#6 The sauna contributes to weight loss


Regular sauna helps burn calories, reduces appetite and improves sleep quality.

We probably weigh less when we leave the sauna than when we enter it, but unfortunately losing weight in the sauna is not that easy. We lose weight because we sweat mainly water. However, after the sauna, we get it back by drinking. However, the sauna contributes to weight loss. That being said, sitting on the sauna bench affects the body in the same way as moderate exercise. We burn calories and our metabolism is activated.

It has also been found that the sauna can help reduce appetite. In warm temperatures, the amount of tyrosine, the hormone that gives a feeling of satiety, increases in the blood. This is the reason why we don't have much of an appetite on a hot day. We also slept longer and deeper after the sauna. When we're exhausted, we eat less and don't turn to snacks as easily.


Should you take a sauna before or after training? Although some sources suggest that taking a sauna before an intense workout can help prevent muscle soreness, it is better to use the sauna to relax after physical exercise.

Sitting in a hot sauna raises the body's core temperature and just before exercise, can have a quite draining effect on us. Our central nervous system becomes overloaded, the muscles' ability to exercise decreases and we cannot exert ourselves intensely.


Here are some good tips for a pleasant sauna experience:


- Regular sauna sessions (e.g. 2-3 times a week) are more efficient than occasional visits.

- Use the sauna after training, it will help you recover and will not tire you out before the effort.

- Always drink enough water in the sauna, it is especially good for balancing the minerals that the body loses through sweat.

- Choose the temperature of the sauna according to how you feel. From a health point of view, scientists agree that a steam room with a temperature of no more than 100 degrees is most suitable for our bodies. Listen to your body's signals regarding heat tolerance.

- Don't underestimate the importance of fresh air. Good ventilation makes sauna sessions healthier and more enjoyable. If there is inadequate ventilation, open a door or window to let in fresh air.



Using the sauna after sports training

Sauna and exercise are designed to complement each other. Both are beneficial individually, but together they make an excellent combination. In addition, sitting on the sauna bench helps us relax, divert our thoughts from worries and disconnect from everyday stress. It has been discovered that frequent sauna users tend to be more vital and optimistic than others, as is the case with sports. Therefore, it is highly recommended to take your time and enjoy the sauna sessions as much as possible. It can contribute to a healthier and happier life.

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