You might have heard it said that it’s beneficial to regularly visit a sauna.
Many gyms offer a sauna because of its various health benefits, which we’ll look at in just a moment.
In this article, we set out to settle the following questions once and for all: is it better to visit the sauna before or after workout?
How does the sauna impact your training and which is best for your overall health?
First of all, what are the benefits of going to the sauna?
There are many reasons why a person might visit a sauna, regardless if they hit the gym regularly or not.
A sauna has a wide array of benefits for pretty much everyone’s health.
Improving Cardiovascular Health
It’s quite common that when something hurts, we apply heat to make it better.
One key benefit of regular sauna visits is that the heat improves blood circulation, which obviously helps your muscles.
It’s great to hit the sauna if your muscles are aching (whether from an intense workout or something else) because the improved circulation will help relieve muscle soreness as well as joint movement.
A 2017 study that looked at the effects of dry saunas on people found a clear connection between regular sauna visits and easing of arthritis-related pain as well as other common ailments such as rheumatism.
Easing symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
The same study claim that going to the sauna can lower the risk of getting a disease such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
Although the findings were impressive, more research is needed to establish once and for all if there actually is a connection between the two, but hey, it won’t hurt to try!
Which is, after all, why we’re all here, isn’t it? For all those stretches and core workouts? Well, look no further.
Studies have actually confirmed that going to the sauna regularly (each time you work out, that is) does help with endurance, mainly because it increased blood volume.
The same study which asked subjects to visit the sauna on each day they worked out for three weeks, then asked them not to visit the sauna for another three weeks as they continued the same rigorous training.
The study noted a definite improvement in their overall endurance while also visiting the sauna.
Detoxing Your Body
Obviously, the reason the majority of people use a sauna before or after workout is for its detox benefits.
By making you sweat profusely, a sauna flushes out all the toxins from your body, which can also be useful if dealing with a skin ailment, such as acne.
Remember that daily exposure to today’s highly polluted atmosphere causes various poisonous elements to become embedded deep into your skin and pose a threat to your overall health.
So, sweating them out regularly keeps you on track.
Because we can’t talk about saunas without talking about relaxation, can we?
That is one of the main purposes of a sauna, after all, to help you relax and shed some stress after a hard day.
First of all, a sauna works well for your psyche because you are actually telling yourself that ‘okay, this is my time to chill out’.
It’s a designated relaxation space, which of course encourages you to chill.
Second, the intense heat of the sauna automatically increases your heart rate.
Higher heart rate also means that your body is releasing more endorphins, which of course make you happier.
So, saunas aren’t just allowing you to blow off steam, but they are actually helping you get happy. What more could you ask for?
What Are The Other Sauna Benefits?
Of course, these are just some of the key benefits of visiting a sauna regularly.
Depending on whom you ask, you might hear of all sorts of other reasons why people go to the sauna.
Some even see it as a social event. Since most of us don’t have the luxury of having our own private sauna, we usually share it with other people, be it friends or strangers.
And it’s a wonderful occasion for you to connect and socialize. There are basically no distractions available in a sauna.
You can’t take your phone in with you, so there’s no chance you’ll be staring at the screen throughout the conversation, and most saunas have pretty basic interior design. All the better for deep, meaningful conversations.
So now that we’ve looked at all the wonderful things a sauna visit can do for your general health, let us turn to the question which brought us all here.
Sauna Before or After Workout?
Remember that study we mentioned earlier, about how a sauna can improve your athletic performance?
Well, according to that study, this is only true if you go to the sauna after your work out.
More specifically, the study looked at runners who visited the sauna after their session.
Why is it important to go to the sauna after and not before your workout?
There are actually a few reasons for this.
First of all, the excessive heat is not what you want to subject yourself to before training.
As we mentioned earlier, the heat of the sauna improves blood circulation, which in turn gets your muscles to relax.
This is great when you’re looking to ease some pain or soreness, but definitely not so great when you’re wanting a vigorous workout.
While many believe that it’s a good idea to relax your muscles (by stretching, for example) before you workout.
Overly relaxed muscles run a much higher risk of injury while training, so it’s not what you should be going for, especially if your workout routines tend to be quite intensive.
Of course, you don’t want your muscles to be super tight and sore before you hit the gym, as that can cause problems of its own.
Sauna before a workout also leads to mental relaxation
Which again is great, just not what we’re wanting before a workout, that’s all.
When you’re getting ready for a serious training session, you want to be amped up and excited.
You want to be able to focus and energized so that you can give it your all.
Unfortunately, a visit to the sauna has the opposite effect.
By making us more relaxed, it actually decreases our stamina, which in turn affects how we work out.
Visiting the sauna dehydrates you
Of course. After all, you are sweating out fluids.
And the problem is, you want to be as hydrated as you possibly can be during training because that allows you to achieve peak performance.
If you’re dehydrated before your workout, your body struggles to accommodate your exercises and will perform worse under pressure.
But wouldn’t I sweat more if I hit the sauna beforehand? Wouldn’t that be good for my training?
It’s no secret we want to sweat a lot while working out.
Sweat is great because it signifies that we are burning up those calories, which for many, is the primary reason for working out in the first place.
And while it is technically true that by preheating your body in a sauna, you will sweat more while working out, it’s not what you should be going for.
See, although you will sweat more, you won’t burn any more calories. A visit to the sauna can’t affect that.
So basically, all you’re doing is just dehydrating faster.
Hitting the sauna after a workout is a well-earned treat for your exhausted body that will serve to relax your entire being, both body and mind.
Final Thoughts – Sauna Before or After Workout?
We recommend sauna after workouts for maximum benefits.
However, there are some people who prefer going to the sauna before their workout.
Why? Because they say it tests their endurance and that the enhanced blood circulation improves their overall workout performance.
This may also have a grain of truth, and so the answer to “Sauna before or after workout” is solely depends on you.
It really depends a lot on the individual whether or not they hit the sauna before or after their workout, but if you want our advice, we would encourage you to go after your training.
Do you have a preferred moment for hitting the sauna? Is it before or after the workout?