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Sauna for Athletes

Sauna and exercise seems to go hand-in-hand, which explains why saunas have long been a mainstay in locker rooms. 

It’s not hard to see why: The idea of relaxing in a heated room after a tough workout—especially if you’re stiff or sore—can be really appealing. Sitting in a sauna just plain feels good.

For Taylor Roberts of Chicago, sessions in the sauna were a key part of her rehabilitation from shoulder injury, helping ease pain and increase range of motion.

“It makes my muscles and joints all feel so good,” she says. “I was blown away with the results.”

But sauna sessions aren’t only helpful for athletes; they may aid in weight management as well.

How Sauna Works

When you sit in a sauna, heat raises your body temperature, which, in turn, stresses your heart and can increase levels of stress hormones in the body.

“It’s comparable to low-to-moderate exercise,” say Jari Laukkanen, MD, professor at the University of Eastern Finland.

Yet, when you exit the sauna, the opposite happens.

Blood pressure and heart rate decrease. Recent studies have found that heart rate variability also increases post-sauna: “It means your body is relaxing,” says Laukkanen.The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described. The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

How Sauna Helps Sports Performance

This relaxing heat may be beneficial after exercise.

“Heat tends to increase blood flow, which can help clean the area of compounds that can be irritating and predispose you to cramping,” says Charles Kim, MD, pain management specialist at NYU Langone. “Blood flow also brings nutrients to the area and helps repair damage.”

Heat can help with pain, too.

“Your nerves have limited bandwidth,” says Kim. “When you apply heat to an area, pain signals compete with temperature signals” to relay messages to your brain.

It’s like when you rub your elbow after hitting it against a table; the rubbing sensation blocks out the pain signals.

But your recovery may depend on the type of workout you performed prior to your sauna session, according to Laukkanen.

For example, a recent study found that participants experienced more fatigue after a strength-training workout followed by sauna compared to an endurance-based workout or a combined endurance and strength training session plus sauna.The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described. The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Regular sauna use may actually be good for your health in general, especially for your heart.

In one study published in the journalMayo Clinic Proceedings, sitting in a sauna is linked to a number of health benefits, such as lower blood pressure and improved cardiovascular function.The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described. The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

You should speak to your practitioner if you have a pre-existing cardiovascular condition before using a sauna. Also, Kim recommends no more than 20 minutes at a time, taking frequent breaks to cool off if necessary, and drinking plenty of fluid.

How Sauna Aids Weight Management

First things first: Any weight loss you may experience directly after a sauna session through sweating is temporary—you’ll gain it back once you rehydrate.

However, sauna may help you control your weight in other ways.

For one thing, by helping to ease the aches and pains associated with exercise, using a sauna can make it easier for you to stick with a fitness program.

What’s more, sauna usage encourages sweating, which helps flush toxins from your system. Toxins in the body have been linked toincreased risk of obesity.The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described. The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Another way sauna may help aid in weight control is by encouraging sounder sleep.

In one study, more than 83% of people who used a sauna reported sleeping better. That’s important because poor sleep is a known factor in weight gain.The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described. The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described. The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.

The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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