If you are lucky enough to have a sauna at your disposal, then it's time to pay attention!
According to a recent study, if you want to gain the most cardiovascular benefits from exercise, it is better to follow up with regular sauna sessions rather than relying on your workout alone.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Physiology 2022, explored adults who were inactive and had at least one cardiovascular risk factor (such as elevated blood pressure or cholesterol).
Participants were randomly divided into three equally-sized groups.
No intervention (control)
Exercise only (50 minutes 3 times a week, consisting of 20 minutes of resistance training followed by 30 minutes of cardio)
Exercise plus sauna (15 minutes of sauna after each exercise session)
After an 8-week period, it was no surprise that exercise had a positive impact on cardiorespiratory fitness as well as body composition.
Not only did the addition of sauna after exercise result in noteworthy gains in cardiorespiratory fitness but also reduced systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol levels.
This research study was conducted in Finland, where sauna bathing is a cultural tradition—where individuals typically follow the following method:
The temperature of the sauna started at 65°C (150°F) and was increased by 5°C every 2 weeks
The humidity of the sauna was between 10% and 20%
Sauna is the perfect addition to your daily routine; not only does it encourage sweating, but it also enhances circulation and rids your body of toxins. If you make regular trips to a gym, chances are there's already an infrared sauna waiting for you!
If you've made sauna bathing a regular practice, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
Lee E, Kolunsarka I, Kostensalo J et al. Effects of regular sauna bathing in conjunction with exercise on cardiovascular function: a multi-arm, randomized controlled trial. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2022. [link]