By Ashley Watson
After I moved into an apartment building with a fitness center, I could no longer justify paying for a gym membership. But the one thing I do miss about my gym is the sauna. While I found many benefits to using the sauna after a workout, here are the top five.
1. Eliminates Toxins in the Body
Sweating helps release toxins that build up in your body. Because many of the toxins from our environment get trapped in the water molecules of your body’s cells, these pollutants are excreted through urine or sweat. The deep sweating caused by sitting in a sauna increases the elimination of toxins—which can reduce blood flow and disrupt cell energy and reproduction.
2. Soothes Sore Muscles
Many people use the sauna after a workout because it reduces the soreness of overworked muscles. When the body heats up and blood vessels dilate, it speeds up the healing process. In addition, deep sweating after a workout helps rid the body of the lactic acid that causes muscle pain. The heat from a sauna can also help soothe achy joints.
3. Improves Blood Flow
One of the best benefits of sauna use is that when your body heats up, your heart rate increases, which increases blood circulation. This has some of the same overall effects as exercise. Increased blood flow can also help to reduce high blood pressure and encourage the healing of bruises, cuts, and muscle injuries. It also burns extra calories and reduces excess water retention.
4. Reduces Stress and Illness
In addition to lowering blood pressure, another sauna benefit worth mentioning involves stress reduction. First, the heat helps produce endorphins, which can give you a general sense of mental well-being. The release of endorphins may also help you get better sleep and feel more rested during the day. Plus, many people simply feel more relaxed after sitting in the sauna even for just 5 minutes.
Stress can also shut down your immune system, so when you do what you can to reduce stress levels, you are maintaining a healthy immune system. The heat from the sauna also increases the production of white blood cells, which work to fight off illness. If you have chronic allergies or sinus problems, the sauna can help relieve symptoms, such as congestion or sinus headaches.
5. Improves Skin and Immune System
Sweating can help improve the skin by cleansing the pores and replacing dead skin cells, which can give your skin a softer look and feel. It can also help wash away bacteria from the epidermal layer. Some studies have shown that the nutrients and minerals in sweat may even help maintain the collagen in the skin, which can help prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging.
While there are many benefits of sauna use, you can do more harm than good if you aren’t careful. Most saunas maintain a temperature of anywhere from 160 to 180 degrees. If you are pregnant or have health issues, it’s important to speak with your doctor before using the sauna.
Most experts recommend that you do not stay in the sauna for more than 20 minutes at a time. In addition to limiting your time, avoid eating or drinking alcohol before or after using the sauna. Be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and to help with detoxification.
What benefits do you get from the sauna? Share your experience and add to the conversation on our Facebook page!