Sauna – Enhanced recovery and longevity!


I always seek out finding new ways to enhance and optimize my own performance. Sauna is definitely one of them and it’s huge part of my recovery process. I try to spend just as much time on recovery than training. Having the sauna available at work is also handy plus I can be alone for 15-20 minutes. It’s definitely a win-win!
Saunas have been around for hundreds of years. They originate from Finland where stones were heated to high temperature to produce more heat. Saunas were common all over Europe in the middle ages. The Sauna became very popular especially in Scandinavia and the German speaking regions of Europe after the Second World War. After the war, the German soldiers brought the habit back to Germany and Austria, where it became popular in the second half of the 20th century.
Today there are a wide variety of sauna options. Heat sources include wood, electricity, gas and other more unconventional methods such as solar power. There are wet saunas, dry saunas, smoke saunas, and steam saunas. There are two main types of stoves: continuous heating and heat storage-type. Continuously heating stoves have a small heat capacity and can be heated up on a fast on-demand basis, whereas a heat storage stove has a large heat (stone) capacity and can take much longer to heat.



Keep in Mind
Before we’re getting into the never ending list of health benefits, there’s a couple of things to keep in mind when staying longer in the sauna.
Staying longer in the sauna may lead to the loss of electrolytes from the body, especially after exercise. So proper hydration is key, this means sipping on water during use of the sauna. You might want to revisit a previous blog post where I shared the importance of electrolytes (lemon for example) and salt upon wakening and during exercise here.
Saunas may not be safe in case of a recent heart attack, unstable of angina pectoris (chest pain or pressure) that could lead to more serious hyperthermia. Children and older persons who have heart disease or seizure disorders or those who use alcohol are especially vulnerable.


Health Benefits

Let’s dive into the interesting part, why do we want to use saunas on a regular basis?
  • Can temporarily relieve symptoms of the common cold
  • Help rheumatic pain (with cold shower) but not neuropathic pain
  • It has also shown usefulness for appetite loss and mild depression
  • It has been recommended for reducing symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia 
  • For reducing symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple times a week of sauna use has potential to lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Improved cardiovascular mechanism and lower heart rate
  • Lower core body temperature during workload
  • Increased red blood cell count and efficiency of oxygen transport to muscles (Better Recovery!)
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Enhanced muscle growth
  • Increase in the size of the muscles and accompanying the increase in strength!
  • Positive affects on muscle injuries
  • Heat shock proteins are known to improve longevity
  • Heat stress and acclamations protect the brain
  • Saunas can lower cholesterol



One study demonstrated that a 30-minute sauna session two times a week for three weeks post-workout increased the time that it took for study participants to run until exhaustion by 32% compared to baseline.
Heat stress just like exercise essentially force the body to become more resilient to stress through stress itself. With that said, it’s important to know your limits and build up tolerance step by step. Stay hydrated and avoid drinking alcohol in the sauna.
If you need more help with training or nutrition or want to book your free 60 minutes 1 to 1 session at Bisham Abbey, Marlow (either 1 to 1 or small group classes) just leave a message at the bottom of this page.
Dr. Rhonda Patrick Ph.D. – Sauna report
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