3 Reasons Why You Need to Add a Sauna to Your Fitness Routine
Fitness and sauna are a winsome pair. They go together like apple pie and vanilla ice cream (in an alternate universe where eating apple pie helps you lose calories and where saunas are cold). Yep, whether you realize it or not, a workout plus a sauna is a dynamic duo beyond compare.
Don’t believe us? If you haven’t paired your fitness routine with a sauna yet, you really ought to. Here’s why.
#1: Reward yourself
1 more mile. 10 more minutes. 5 more reps.
A regular workout is a process of making conditions with yourself: “Just a little bit further; just a little bit more. Then you can rest!” If you need help getting motivated to get moving, a post-workout sauna is just the thing. It gives you something to look forward to while you’re lifting, running, and climbing.
Plant this image in your mind: It’s a cold, wet, dark evening in the pits of January. There are sludgy, icy puddles on the sidewalks, and even though you’d rather stay home and binge watch re-runs of Friends, you lace up your running shoes, pull on your thermal gear, and get moving. It doesn’t take long before your socks are soaked and your nose is dripping, but you persevere. You keep those feet going because you know that the last thing you did before heading out the door was switch on the heater in your sauna, and it’s going to be ready for you when you get home.
At the end of your workout, you return home, peel off all those dank layers, grab a towel and some water, and step into your own private oasis of calm, sublime heat. Those cold, dark miles melt away as you sink and sink into a bone-deep relaxation made sweeter by the knowledge that you’ve earned this moment.
#2: Start healing
“No pain, no gain” is perhaps the most frequently applied cliché when it comes to fitness.
Pain is so common to workouts that there’s even a special name for it: Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). That’s the feeling you have the morning after a tough workout when you roll over to shut off your alarm clock and suddenly feel like the muscles in your body are being ripped to shreds.
And that is in fact what happened to them: while you were working out, you were tearing your muscles. But don’t worry. It’s usually a good thing. It’s the process by which your body makes itself a little bit stronger.
It certainly isn’t pleasant while it lasts, but heat therapy can help.
WebMD wrote an article about DOMS and in the process interviewed Professor David Draper from Brigham Young University. Here’s a snippet from their article:
At Brigham Young, Draper has been researching the use of heat remedies to treat muscle soreness. In clinical tests, a portable air-activated heat wrap — in this case a product called ThermaCare — applied directly to the skin was beneficial to subjects.
“When muscle temperature is increased, blood flow increases, bringing fresh oxygen and healing nutrients to the injured site,” he says. “This increased blood flow also helps to wash away the chemical irritants responsible for pain.”
A heat patch is one thing; an entire sauna in which to immerse yourself in an environment of glowing warmth is quite another. Perhaps now is a good time for you to conduct your own tests. The next time your feel stiff and brittle after a hard workout, hop in the sauna and see what happens.
#3: Get clean
For some, this point may seem counterintuitive: the sauna, a place where one goes to sweat, is traditionally a place of cleansing.
If your typical response to sweat is, “Eww! Gross!”, if you try to avoid sweating by any means necessary, and if you equate sweating with soggy gym socks, smelly duffle bags, and wet spots under the arm pits, then you’re missing out.
A typical sauna bath is not completed in a single sitting. The bather often enters and exits the sauna in rounds – sitting in the sauna for a while, then leaving to cool off, then getting back in the sauna, then leaving it again – and so it goes. Sometimes during cool off rounds, the bather might stand under an icy shower or jump into a chilly lake. These temperature extremes leave the bather feeling fresh, awake, and alive!
Using a sauna has also been said to improve skin tone, leaving it more elastic and youthful looking. The soothing warmth also leaves the body feeling snug and relaxed, ready to be tucked into bed for a good night’s sleep.
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A sauna is a rewarding addition to any active lifestyle, providing a comfy transition between “on the move” and “at rest”. And there are sauna models to complement any lifestyle or home arrangement: small enough for only 2 or 3 people or large enough to accommodate half a dozen; designed for indoor placement in a home gym or for outdoor placement next to a pond, lake, or swimming pool; crafted from lighter lumber such as Nordic Spruce or from richer variants like Western Red Cedar. Whatever your particular needs or preferences may be, there is a traditional home sauna to suit you.
One note: As with all fitness-related activities that induce sweat, make sure you remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate before and after using a sauna.