heat shock proteins

Are Saunas Good For You? Here Are the Benefits of a Sauna

There's a lot of debate over using the sauna before or after a workout and some even ask: are saunas good for you in any regard?. Well, it's time to talk about the benefits of a sauna today and show that saunas are indeed "good for you."

Here are the key points that you need to know about the benefits of using a sauna:

1) Even without exercise, there are definite benefits of a sauna

Independent of exercise, people who use the sauna can expect increased performance on endurance tests. Sauna use also releases IGF-1 which is a precursor to HGH and can prevent muscle loss and fat gain!

2) Using a sauna will make you live longer

Yes, you heard that right and this helps put to bed the question of "are saunas good for you" once and for all. You see, sauna use causes you to release Heat Shock Proteins which have been proven to extend life in both rats and humans. 

3) Saunas boost your brain

Staying in the sauna for around 30 minutes increases your norepinephrine 3-fold (helps with mental focus) and prolactin 10-fold (improves the efficiency of the cells in your brain).

4) Saunas protect your brain

Sauna use is linked to decreased shrinkage of your hippocampus and allows you to continue to create new brain cells even as you age.

5) Saunas pump you up

Staying long in the sauna will increase blood flow to your muscles and allow for the greater uptake of vital nutrients.

6) Saunas are kind to your heart

When used in moderation, saunas can reduce your resting heart rate and improve your overall cardiovascular system.

So, are saunas good for you? I think with the evidence we have to date, the benefits of a sauna are quite clear.

Any questions or comments - feel free to leave them below :)

How Long Should You Sit In a Sauna? Stay In or Get Out?

“How long should you sit in a sauna” is a question I get asked a lot. Determining how long should YOU sit in a sauna isn’t a simple task due to something called “heat acclimation” that makes it more of a personal question.

How long you should sit in a sauna may be very different than how long I should stay in the sauna because I’ve been using sauna therapy for months now.

You see, your body and even you brain adapt to heat stress as it becomes a normal part of your life. Those that deal with extreme sauna-like heat regularly can sit in a sauna much longer before becoming uncomfortable compared to most people.

How long should I stay in the sauna?

The answer here is all about working your way up. If you're not heat acclimated then you must start slowly.

Staying in the sauna too long your first time is exhausting and can be dangerous if you pass out. You should sit in a sauna until you feel mildly uncomfortable for your first go. About 10 to 15 minutes in a sauna over 150 degrees fahrenheit will get you there.

From your first sauna session onward you should sit in for only 1 to 2 minutes more with each visit. This way you can progressively build until you can sit in the sauna for 30 minutes and reap all the awesome benefits of that kind of heat exposure (like a 2 fold increase in muscle building IGF-1!).

Getting there won’t be easy, and it will take a good 5 visits to the sauna for that 30 minute max until you feel you’ve mastered that level.

The more you stick to your sauna regime the longer you will be able to handle sitting in the sauna for those 30 minute periods.

When considering sauna usage you should also take into account when you’ll be sitting in the sauna. Before your workout? After your workout?

Obviously, before your workout you’ll be able to sit in the sauna longer because you will have a lower heart rate to begin with. However, studies on runners showing all the great benefits of sitting in a sauna were looking at sauna use after workouts.

This means that the heat acclimation that comes with feeling uncomfortable in the sauna may be reached quicker after your workout. Since the research was all conducted post workout, we should follow this model if we want to optimize our time sitting in the sauna.