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With Brisbane bracing for one of its coldest winter’s yet, we find ourselves indulging in hot chocolates, warm baths and anything else to keep cosy. If this sounds familiar and you are looking for new ways to stay warm, why not try adding in a few toasty sauna sessions this winter and enjoy the sauna benefits? Not only will you get your sweat on but will also reap the myriad of health benefits associated with the sauna. So pop into Active Life Fitness Everton Hills today and make the most of our sauna and steam room to get winter ready.

In a country with over 3.3 million saunas, there is no doubt that the Finn’s love a good sweat session, so much so that there is one in every Finnish consulate around the world (#saunadiplomacy) (Bosworth, 2013). Commonly referred to as the “poor man’s pharmacy”, the sauna has a long history with disease prevention and stress relief.  So are the Finn’s onto something here and is the love of the sauna justified? Let’s explore a few of the sauna benefits.

1. Decreased DOMs & Muscle Growth

If you, like us, and are still struggling to walk from leg day (last week!), then a sauna session might be just what you need to reduce DOM’s.

How? A study by the Journal of Human Kinetics showed that just two 20-minute sauna sessions a week can increase the body’s human growth hormone (HGH) and break down fats and build muscle (Redberg, 2015). The increased blood flow helps transport nutrients effectively throughout the body thereby speeding up the recovery process.

Benefit? In conjunction with consistent weight training and proper sleep, the sauna can accelerate recovery (reducing DOMs) and promote muscle growth (#strengthgains).

When? Schedule your sauna session after any sort of weight/strength training. If you are strength training 2-3 times a week then a 20-minute sauna session after each workout will help boost your HGH.

2. Improved Blood Pressure & Heart Function

How? The heat from the sauna dilates your blood vessels and increases the flow of blood throughout your body, allowing your heart to beat faster and more efficiently.

Benefit? The increased heart rate is similar to that of mild to moderate cardio exercise (like walking or jogging). Research has shown that frequent sauna use can help minimise the risk of early death from cardiovascular disease (Tanjaniina Laukkanen S. K., 2017). You will resultantly burn more calories due to the body’s increased metabolic function.

When? The best time to use the sauna is after your workout. As your heart rate is already elevated, the sauna will boost your metabolic processes and keep those calories burning (Salada, 2014). Make sure you are properly hydrated before entering the sauna.

3. Body Detoxification & Weight Loss

Described by the Finn’s as the “fountain of youth”, the sauna has proven detoxification and anti-ageing benefits to give you that flawless cover girl glow.

How? The thermal properties of the sauna penetrate the deeper tissue layers of the body to enhance blood circulation and remove waste and toxins through the sweating process. (Wanda Pilch, 2013)

Benefit? Weight loss is also a by-product of the sauna due to the increased level of sweat produced. In addition, the heat penetration helps to release the toxins trapped inside fat cells reducing the appearance of cellulite (Kassael, 2018). The sweating will further to help unclog your pores and remove dead skin cells. This is why steam rooms and saunas are so popular in day spas.

When? If you are using the sauna purely for detoxification benefits then it is appropriate to use it at anytime. However, keep in mind that the sauna is not a substitute for exercise and is by no means a quick fix for weight loss. In fact, a lot of the mass lost is from the water weight of sweating. Use the sauna in conjunction with your regular workout routines to complement your fitness goals.

4. Relaxation

“Sauna is for your mind. It helps calm down society…and you enter a meditative place” (Tanjaniina Laukkanen S. K., 2017). The sauna is just as beneficial for your mental wellbeing as it is for your physical health.

How? It provides a quiet place or an escape for people to unwind from the stresses of work and family life (#downtime). There is something about sitting in stillness that can remind people to stop, breathe and unwind.

Benefit? Regular use of 2-3-sauna sessions a week can help decrease depression and anxiety symptoms (Redberg, 2015). The heat also reduces tension aches and pains that manifest from stress. After all, who doesn’t appreciate a calmer mind and a better night’s sleep?

When? Again, there is no right or wrong time to use the sauna if you are just seeking some Zen.However, a session in the evening can help you unwind from the day, relieve tense muscles and prepare your body and mind for a good night’s rest.

Final Tips to Maximise Safe Sauna Use

  1. Hydration is a must! Drink plenty of water (at least 600ml) before and after entering the sauna to replenish lost fluids.
  2. Do not spend longer than 30 minutes in the sauna at a time for the risk of dehydration and overheating. Each person’s tolerance to heat is different so this timeframe may vary slightly.
  3. Keep sauna sessions to a maximum of 3-4 times a week but be consistent with your use to reap the full benefits.
  4. Take a cold shower (or dip in the pool) after the sauna to help constrict your blood vessels. This will prevent light-headedness from the oxygenated blood.
  5. Check with your doctor if it is safe for you to use the sauna, particularly for those on blood pressure medication, pregnant women or anyone with cardiovascular conditions.
  6. Finally relax, refresh and enjoy your sauna session this winter!

Works Cited

Bosworth, M. (2013, October 1). Why Finland loves Saunas. Retrieved June 2018, from The BBC:

Chew, C. (2017, July 18). Is a Sauna Good for Healing Scars? Retrieved June 2018, from Livestrong

English, N. (2017, August 10). Why Saunas Can Build Muscle, Boost Endurance, and Increase Strength . Retrieved June 2018, from Bar Bend:

Kassael, G. (2018, February 24). Saunas Might Actually be Really Good for You. Retrieved June 2018, from Womens Health Mag

Nichols, H. (2018, February). How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna? Retrieved June 2018, from Wellbeing Secrets

Redberg, R. (2015, April). Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing. JAMA Internal Medicine , 175.

Salada, L. (2014, May 19). Sauna Use After a Workout Health Benefits & Risks. Retrieved June 2018, from Total Gym Direct

Tanjaniina Laukkanen, S. K. (2017). Acute effects of sauna bathing on cardiovascular function. Journal of Human Hypertension (32), 129-138.

Tanjaniina Laukkanen, S. K. (2017). Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in middle-aged Finnish men. Journal of Age and Ageing , 46 (2), 245-249.

Tapio, S. (2015, November 15). How to Use Sauna for Recovery, Detox and Longevity. Retrieved June 2018, from Vahva Fitness

Wanda Pilch, l. P. (2013, December). Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes. Journal of Human Kinetics , 127-135.

[1] Temperatures in steam rooms (wet saunas) are lower than the traditional (dry) sauna. Despite the higher temperature, the ambient moisture levels are lower in dry saunas so the skin does not burn.