Am I using the sauna right?
7 Jul 2023 16:29PM
Since we’ve had some hot days recently, heading to the sauna might not sound like your ideal summer activity. But spa time is good for you all year round. Not only does it support your mental wellbeing but can also help you achieve your physical fitness goals. And, let’s face it: who doesn’t love a sauna?
But, there is a little art to using the sauna. It’s not as simple as hopping in and hopping out again. Developed in Finland, there is a technique to dry sauna bathing – but the good news is that it’s easy to follow.
What's so good about the sauna?
There’s no denying it: spa time feels like a luxury. But it doesn’t have to be. At Virgin Active, you can make the sauna a regular part of your fitness routine and reap the benefits that come with it.
Various studies have shown that a consistent sauna routine can contribute to:
• Improved heart rate
• Increased blood flow
• Reduced chance of cardiovascular illness
• Reduced likelihood of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s
And we don’t have to tell you twice that taking a little quiet time for yourself also helps to alleviate stress.
How does the sauna help athletes?
Interestingly, studies have shown that saunas have particularly positive impacts on athletes or people who do sport. That’s because under heat the body releases endorphins. When endorphins are released, you feel less pain because the nerve cells that receive pain signals are blocked. This could help you feel more comfortable if you’re experiencing DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
As well as this, saunas or general exposure to heat can speed up your body’s natural healing process. That’s because your blood vessels dilate when as you get hotter which contributes to better blood circulation. The better the blood circulation, the faster your body will dispel lactic acid, soothe your muscles and reduce other toxins in your body. This also happens when you sweat.
What's the best way to use the sauna for my health?
There is no ‘right way’ to use a sauna but there is a suggested routine that will help you get the most out of your session. If you’re new to using the sauna, it’s recommended to spend between 5 – 10 minutes on your session. Then, when you’ve been a few times, you can build up to 10 – 15 minutes.
Here’s the best way to use the sauna…
1. Take a shower before your sauna session and make sure you dry yourself thoroughly to allow your body to sweat more freely
2. Wear light clothing and lie or sit on a towel
3. In your first session, spend 10 minutes in the sauna. Relax, breathe normally and stay as still as possible
4. Cool off by taking a shower and drinking plenty of water
5. When you’ve cooled down enough, head back to the sauna for another 10 minutes
6. Cool off again with a shower and drink of water
7. Head back to the sauna for a final 10 minutes
8. You’re done! So make sure you take as much time as you need to relax and cool off before you get dressed and enjoy the rest of your day
Is there anything else I should think about?
As good as the sauna is, it’s not for everyone. If you’re in doubt, don’t forget to check with a medical professional before you going in for the first time.
Even if you’re comfortable using the sauna, it’s important to hydrate before your session. Enjoy 1 – 2 glasses of water before you go in. It’s going to get hot!
We’ve got plenty of saunas throughout our UK clubs. Head to our club pages to find out more on where your closest one is.