If the thought of finishing a workout by sitting in a sweltering, 200-degree heated wooden closet doesn’t strike you as a good idea, you might want to think again. Combining the benefits of a detoxifying sauna with a regular workout can be beneficial to the overall muscle relaxation of your body. Saunas are mostly used for detoxifying the body and heating up your circulatory system to promote relaxation and overall health. That reason why many gyms and health clubs offer saunas for the health benefits of their members.
Athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts use saunas to enhance the recovery process after strenuous workouts. According to writer Jamie Hale in his article “Therapeutic Methods to Boost Recovery,” saunas offer two benefits for helping athletes achieve fitness and sports goals. Saunas speed recovery between training sessions by reducing muscle tension and by eliminating some aches and muscle stiffness. This also improves the emotional and physical well-being of athletes and makes them more eager to train again. Hale reports that saunas also help the body to expel excess nitrogen, a byproduct of strenuous exercise, through the skin.
Sweating removes lactic acid, which is a byproduct of metabolism in the muscle cells. Too much lactic acid will make muscles stiff and sore, and a good sweat in the sauna can help prevent this soreness. Dr. Andrew Weil also points out that saunas can help reduce the pain of arthritis.
Sweating has a number of health benefits, and a person in a sauna can sweat out a quart of water within an hour of sitting in a sauna. In normal situations, losing water through the skin is an inconvenience or embarrassment. In a sauna, sweating helps clean the skin and unclog pores. According to Aaland, regular use of a sauna will also help keep the skin supple and pliant. A good sweat also removes excess sodium, which can relieve mild hypertension, and it removes urea, a byproduct of natural metabolism.
The body stores a number of environmental toxins and their by-products in fat tissue. According to the Eco-mall website, a study of 200 participants showed that sauna therapy lowered glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and provided liver enzyme changes and chemical sensitivity results similar to blood changes seen in a detoxification process. Dr. Weil notes that sweating in a sauna can eliminate drugs and toxins, and benefit the liver by reducing the need for that organ to process these harmful substances. Aaland calls the skin “a third kidney,” which in a sauna, can remove toxic metals such as copper and mercury in amounts that the kidneys would need a day to process.
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