Sweat it out in the Sauna by Onica Sinclair

Being from South Texas, I love the feeling of heat warming my skin and soul.  It’s an amazing feeling!  I’m one of those weirdos that will get in my truck after it’s been sitting in the sun for a while and just sit in the driver’s seat without turning it on just to enjoy the warmth and heat.  Because I’m such a fan of this this, when my gym bae, Brittany, asked me to go to the sauna after a workout I tried it out.  I had never been in a sauna before, but I absolutely fell in love with it.  Actually, not a week goes by now that I’m not in the sauna at least twice.  I love the heat.  I love the sweat.  I love the calm.  It’s amazing and I highly recommend it.

Before I get into the benefits of a post workout sauna session, there were a few things I had to learn to do and not to do.  First, DON’T go in nude!  As tempting as it may be sound, it’s is important to take a towel with you and to keep sanitary conditions in mind.  Another thing, it’s probably NOT a good idea to take electronics in there.  They are quick to overheat and take a while after you exit to cool off and function properly again.  Also, DO be quick.  You don’t need any longer than 15 to 20 minutes in the sauna to reap the benefits.  The biggest “DO” though is DO DRINK WATER!  Make sure to drink extra water after your sauna sweat session to rehydrate the body which helps it recover and is essential for proper functionality.

There is a large debate over whether you should enjoy the sauna before or after the workout.  I definitely prefer after.  Many experts saying spending time in the sauna before a workout could possibly lead to an injury or a less-than-aggressive workout.  Spending time in the sauna relaxes your muscles, sometimes a little too much.  Trying to really engage those now extremely loosened muscles can be dangerous and can lead less effort.  Speaking of effort, being in the sauna setting relaxes not only your muscles, but your mind.  I usually leave the sauna feeling extremely relaxed a bit lethargic.  Approaching a workout with this mindset could lead to a lackluster workout without that extra pop of mental gains and goals.  Also, while you work out, it is important to stay hydrated.  Being in a sauna and sweating excessively can lead to dehydration and overheating.  It is never a good idea to take on a workout without enough water or with your body feeling overexerted.

Post workout sauna sessions are an excellent way to rid toxins.  While we workout, we develop what some call metabolic waste and toxins.  Sitting in the sauna after circulates our blood flow.  It sends blood to the skin to keep you cool which turns into sweat to cool you off.  This sweat is an excellent vehicle for ridding your body of toxins and waste.  It can also help rid your body of cramping or excessive soreness.  The heat relaxes and helps with the recovery of worked muscles and joints.

Saunas are actually a good way to burn some extra calories after your workout.  Since your body is so hot, it has to work harder to keep itself cool.  Your body’s hard work leads to it working harder to keep you cool which burns extra calories.  It doesn’t only provide calorie burning, but some experts say the infrared head can slightly increase the amounts of HGH (human growth hormone) in your system.  This lowers cortisol levels and promotes weight loss.

Mentally, saunas are a great way to slowly come down from your workout high and meditate.  When I go to the gym, it’s usually pretty laid back as I go in the middle of the day so I usually have the sauna to myself.  I lay across the hot wooden benches, close my eyes, and breathe.  It feels great and I’d highly recommend it.  Women, it’s great during PMS time!  While your muscles are relaxing, your mind is relaxing too and those endorphins are firing on all cylinders making for a great euphoric feeling.

There is Finnish saying the says, “The sauna is the poor man’s pharmacy.”  When you think about a pharmacy, you think about what ails you.  The sauna helps with ailing muscles and mentality.  Heal your body.  Soothe your mind.  Keep calm and sauna!

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