What Are the Benefits of Saunas at the Gym?

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Saunas are commonly found at gyms and health clubs. Members of the gym are invited by the staff to relax in the sauna after exercise. There is some evidence available that indicates a sauna may have health benefits. However, people with medical conditions should not use a sauna without first speaking with a doctor.

Effects

Improved endurance can occur from regular use of the sauna after exercise. In a 2007 study performed at the University of Otago in New Zealand, it was found that male runners had improved running endurance after daily use of a sauna after exercise for three weeks. Subjects exercised for approximately 15 minutes and then relaxed in a sauna for approximately 30 minutes following each session. The sauna was at about 190 degrees Fahrenheit. The researchers speculated that improved endurance resulted from an increase in blood volume from prolonged heat exposure.

Benefits

Most gyms offer saunas as a place to relax after exercise. The heat produced in a sauna room relaxes the muscles as blood flow increases. According to Harvard Medical School, for each minute you are in the sauna, the heart nearly doubles the amount of blood pumped. The skin temperature increases to approximately 104 degrees Fahrenheit within minutes of sitting in a sauna.

Considerations

If you have opted for a low-impact workout, you may want to sweat in a sauna to lose water weight. In a short session in a sauna, a person may sweat out an average of 1 pint of fluid states Harvard Medical School. Although sweating does not cure any medical conditions, a small amount of toxins can be removed from the body through sweat.

Warning

Keep in mind that strenuous exercise and sauna use may cause adverse effects. During strenuous exercise, fluid loss is likely. Drink plenty of water during and after exercise before you use the sauna. Without adequate fluid intake, you put yourself at risk for dehydration and heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Drink at least 2 to 4 glasses after a sauna as well.

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