The Sauna Dilemma – Before or After Your Workout?
If you have access to a sauna, you just might find that incorporating it into your regular workout routine is something you will enjoy. Most people prefer using the sauna after a workout. It can help with muscle relaxation and recovery, reducing muscle soreness and stiffness.
Should You Use a Sauna Before or After a Workout?
The best time to implement your sauna session is post-workout. While some people may be tempted to use a sauna pre-workout, the majority of the benefits of sauna use best serve an athlete’s purposes when done after you workout.
6 Benefits of a Sauna After You Workout
- Improved Cardiovascular Health: Although people with certain heart conditions are not encouraged to use a sauna, a post-workout sauna can help promote heart health.
- Less Soreness: Sauna time can help decrease the severity of sore muscles (as well as how long your muscles are sore after challenging workout sessions).
- Metabolism Boost: While some experts assert that a sauna will help with weight loss, the jury is still out on that. Regular use of a sauna will indeed help boost the metabolism.
- Recovery: After your fitness routine is complete, using a traditional sauna will help with the recovery process. Saunas cause the blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow. The improved blood circulation relaxes muscles, reducing tension.
- Skin Health: Spending time and sweating in a sauna draws nutrients and oxygen to the surface, resulting in healthier, glowing skin.
- Tension Relief: Regular sauna use can help relieve tension which is advantageous to your workouts and also overall relaxation. This results in stress relief which is a major health benefit.
4 Benefits to Sauna Before a Workout
- Warm-up Your Body: Although it is not a substitute for traditional warmup activities, a sauna can be used to warm up your body as you ready it for activity.
- Improve Blood Circulation: A sauna will help encourage increased and improved blood flow.
- Increase Core Body Temperature: The high temperatures of a sauna can help you acclimate to the rigor of the workout you are about to undertake.
- Loosen Muscles: Part of the benefit of sauna bathing is your muscles will loosen up. This can help with injury prevention and improve your range of motion.
How Long Should You Sauna?
The ideal duration for a sauna session varies depending on a few factors such as your tolerance to heat, personal health, and the type of sauna (traditional Finnish sauna, infrared sauna, etc.).
However, here are some general guidelines:
- Beginners: If you are new to using a sauna, start with shorter sessions of about 5-10 minutes. This allows your body to adjust to the heat gradually.
- Regular Users: For those accustomed to sauna use, sessions typically last between 10-20 minutes. Within this time, most people experience the benefits of relaxation, increased circulation, and muscle recovery.
- Type of Sauna: Traditional Finnish saunas, which are hotter (usually between 150°F and 195°F), might necessitate shorter sessions, while infrared saunas, which operate at lower temperatures, might allow for slightly longer sessions.
- Listening to Your Body: It’s crucial to listen to your body’s signals. If you feel uncomfortable, dizzy, or overly fatigued, it’s important to exit the sauna, regardless of how much time has passed.
Sauna and Hydration
It is important to drink plenty of water when using a sauna. Due to the high temperatures in a sauna, you are going to sweat and lose body fluids. Drinking fluids, water in particular, will help with recovery and overall wellness, and prevent overheating.
You may even need to consider a beverage that will restore your electrolytes, such as a sport drink. The last thing you want is for your sauna to be counterproductive because you end up dehydrated.
Is There a Best Time of Day to Use a Sauna?
When deciding when to use your sauna to achieve maximum benefit, ask yourself what you are trying to achieve.
Using a sauna or steam room in the morning helps improve your mental acuity for the entire day. Conversely, using a sauna in the evening can help you relax and sleep better.
Are Saunas and Steam Rooms the Same?
They are not the same thing. Although both are hot and present excellent health benefits, the major difference is the amount of humidity.
As the name implies, a steam room has moisture which results in steam. Saunas are dry heat.
Is It Safe to Sauna Every Day?
It is perfectly safe to use a sauna every day. Just be mindful of a few things:
- Health: People with certain health conditions should avoid a sauna. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have medical conditions or concerns.
- Time: Don’t sauna for too long, especially if you are new to it.
- Heat: Some individuals need a lower temperature sauna, while others can tolerate very hot ones.
- Hydration: Be careful to stay hydrated (and rehydrate after using the sauna).
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