There’s a reason why more and more fitness centers are including saunas in their “back of the house” amenities.
Beloved for literally thousands of years (not just by the ancient Nordic people, but by the Greeks, the Romans, and even the Mayans), saunas have been used as natural healing chambers to sweat out toxins, to speed up recovery, and to just sort of relax and destress.
Below we break down how long you want to sit in a sauna after a workout to get the most out of this experience, but then dig even a little bit deeper.
We cover the biggest benefits you’ll enjoy spending time in a sauna following a workout, why you want to avoid going into the sauna before your workout, and more.
Let’s get right into it, shall we?
How Long to Sit in a Sauna After a Workout
Plan to stay in the sauna for no longer than 20 minutes to avoid over-exerting your body. If you have never used a sauna before or are new to the practice, start with smaller intervals of time. Your body will tell you if you’re spending too long in the sauna post-workout.
Regardless of whether or not you had a particularly grueling workout, really pushing your body to the limits, or have just spent some time pounding it out on a treadmill to keep toned it’s generally a good idea to keep your post-workout sauna session short.
The odds are good that even just a little bit of physical exercise has left your body feeling tired and worn. You’ve stressed your muscles but also your central nervous system, you’ve built up a “head of steam” and have started to sweat, and you are a little bit vulnerable right now.
It’s important to keep this sauna session short.
Slide into the sauna with plans to stay there for about 20 minutes to 30 minutes following your workout, maybe even spending less time in the sauna if you haven’t used one much in the past (or have used one in a while).
It’s also important that you stay on the lookout for obvious signs that your body has been in the sauna a little bit too long following a workout – and your body will trigger alarms, that’s for sure!
Feelings of lightheadedness, feeling dizzy, starting to get a headache, or just sort of feeling “foggy” are signs that your body is rapidly dehydrating and/or overheating and you want to pop out of the sauna for sure Ford get any worse.
If you are dead set on extending your sauna stay or want to make sure that you aren’t getting dehydrated while you are “in the box”, make sure that you drink a couple of glasses of water before going into the sauna and then immediately after.
You’ll be much happier that you did!
What are the Benefits of using a Sauna After a Workout?
- Why spend time in the sauna following a workout?
- Will 20 or 30 minutes in the sauna actually make that big of a difference?
- How will I benefit from the sauna directly?
Let’s answer those questions right now!
The biggest reason to spend time in the sauna following a workout is to speed up your recovery.
Everyone that’s spent even just a little bit of time working out and training knows that grueling workouts aren’t just going to wear you out while you are in the gym, but for days afterward as well while your body recovers.
Spending time in the sauna can help you to reduce the onset of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). It can also help you to get more oxygenated blood to your worn-out muscles by improving your circulation in the sauna itself.
Relieve Muscle Tension
Heat is a great way to help your muscles relax, break down tension, and to give them an opportunity to sort of “reboot”.
Saunas are incredibly hot and humid environments that are going to help your muscles relax faster and more effectively than wrapping your body in giant heat packs, that’s for sure.
You might step into a sauna feeling beaten down and worn out, but it’s a good guess that 20 minutes later you’ll leave that sauna feeling rested and a lot more relaxed.
Improve Your Cardiovascular System
Saunas have long been appreciated for their ability to boost your cardiovascular health, improving circulation throughout your body without you having to do anything but sit in these hot, steamy rooms for 20 to 30 minutes.
While folks with tricky cardiovascular systems shouldn’t spend too much time in the sauna (if any at all), those that are safe to work out generally can – and should – spend up to half an hour in the sauna to get their circulation really rocking and rolling.
Your circulation is going to move more oxygenated blood to your broken-down and tired muscles. It’s also going to help speed up protein synthesis to repair torn muscle tissue, too.
Why It’s a Good Idea NOT to Sauna BEFORE a Workout!
Though there are some huge benefits to using a sauna for 20 to 30 minutes before your workout, you don’t want to reverse things – stepping into the sauna before you go and hit the gym.
Spending 30 minutes in the sauna ahead of your workout is going to relax you significantly, and that means you’re not going to be able to recruit the energy or intensity you need to get in a quality workout.
On top of that, you might physically relax your muscles so much that you start to run the risk of injuring your body by “shocking” the first time you start throwing around some serious iron.
Lastly, you’ll sweat a ton even just spending a little bit of time in the sauna – and that’s going to dehydrate you. You’ll have to build up more hydration before you work out we run the risk of cramping and injuring yourself, too.
Stick to post-workout saunas and you’ll be a whole lot happier.
At the end of the day, keeping your post-workout sauna time to between 20 and 30 minutes at a clip is the “sweet spot”.
That’s just enough time to reap all of the big benefits of a sauna but not enough time to seriously dehydrate your body.
You’ll speed up your recovery. You’ll rest and relax following a tough workout. And you’ll even improve your cardiovascular health to boot!
Just don’t stay any longer than 30 minutes or the benefits of a sauna start to drop off significantly!