Spending time in the heat of a sauna can leave you feeling invigorated. You lay back, allowing your body to sweat away all your worries and your mind to melt away all concerns.
Because of something called hyperthermic conditioning.
Hyperthermic conditioning is spending brief periods in a hot space so that your body acclimates to very high temperatures. This is often done through the use of a sauna.
Your body experiences several changes when sitting in a sauna. The high temperatures place a strain on your body. Repeated exposure to high temperatures can help your body adapt easier, thus decreasing the strain on your body. How your body adapts to the heat:
These adaptations can significantly improve health and athletic performance. Hop into the sauna and be sure to experience some of the positive effects listed below!
Sauna time may lower your risk of high blood pressure. According to the American Journal of Hypertension, “middle-aged men taking a sauna four to seven times a week cut their risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) by 46 percent compared to those doing so weekly.” 3 Besides lowering the risk of high blood pressure, it has been proven to help those who have already been diagnosed with it. A study discovered that men with an average blood pressure of 166/101 mmHg experienced a decrease in pressure to an average of 143/92 mmHg after three months of twice-weekly sauna sessions. This is a similar effect to what some people get when utilizing blood pressure medications.2
Trying to lower your cholesterol? Spend some time in the sauna. Regular sauna bathing can significantly reduce cholesterol levels. One study found that 10 sessions caused a reduction in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Just remember that if you are going to the sauna to decrease your cholesterol, try to make it a habit. When the participants stopped the sessions their levels returned to baseline within two weeks, so aim for this to be a regular activity! 4
Whether you’re training to run a marathon or just trying to keep up with the kids, hyperthermic conditioning is here to help! Saunas can enhance athletic performance by improving heat tolerance and increasing blood volume so that oxygen and nutrients may be transported to your muscles. Participants of a study took thirty-minute sauna sessions two times a week. After just three weeks, the time it took the participants to run until exhaustion increased by 32% compared to baseline. 1
Research data suggests that saunas increase the responsiveness of blood vessels to changes in pressure. They will expand and contract easily based on your body's demands. This means that your blood vessels will be more efficient and effective in transporting your blood throughout your body.5
Want to get the most out of your workout? Hyperthermic conditioning activates muscle growth. During exercise, your muscles break down and build new proteins. Stepping into the sauna after your workout will reduce the number of proteins that are broken down while maintaining protein synthesis. This will increase the size of your muscle cells.8
Evidence suggests that the more frequently you spend time in the sauna, the lower your risk of dementia. A study by the University of Eastern Finland revealed that men who spent time in the sauna four to seven times a week were 66% less likely to develop dementia and 65% less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease than those who visited the sauna only once a week.6
Regular sauna use stimulates your immune system and can significantly reduce your risk of getting pneumonia, influenza or the common cold. The incidence of the common cold was reduced by fifty percent for those taking sauna sessions twice a week for six months. 2
As a result of increased circulation, you may notice a reduction in muscle soreness and an improvement in joint mobility.
After spending time in the sauna, people suffering from musculoskeletal conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia reported lower levels of discomfort.5 This may be explained by the results of a study that demonstrated that the more time spent in the sauna, the lower the inflammation levels will be in your blood. People with chronic inflammation often experience pain, soreness, and fatigue. Saunas may help to temporarily alleviate some of these symptoms.7
Saunas decrease pulmonary congestion and improve lung capacity and function. This may help to improve breathing for people with conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Despite the respiratory benefits of regular sauna sessions, it should not be used during the acute phase of a respiratory infection.2
In most studies, the participants spent 15 to 30 minutes in the sauna. It is recommended to do this anywhere from two to five times a week. If hyperthermic conditioning is something you are considering starting, make sure that you begin slowly and gradually work your way up.
Seeing all the benefits of Hyperthermic Conditioning may have you halfway to the nearest sauna already but please remember to: