The sauna takes pride of place in many leisure centres and swimming pools up and down the country. Today, we’ll briefly discuss the background behind the Sauna, where they came from, how they work, how you lose weight in a sauna, the purposes the sauna serves and investigate whether or not there are substantial sauna weight loss benefits!

Saunas originate from Scandinavia where it’s thought that they’ve been used for over 2000 years. The were invented in Finland and have been part of their way of living ever since.They have been adopted by countries worldwide and are used extensively in the health, fitness and leisure industry.

How does a sauna work?

A classic sauna, which you might find in a swimming pool or leisure centre, is typically an enclosed wooden box with benches to sit on or lie down on. Although there are many different types of sauna, the most common generates heat through stone filled heaters and these stones are heated to an extreme temperature. In more traditional style, water is thrown onto to heated stone or timber which causes a large amount of steam to be produced in the enclosed box. The more water applied, the more steam created, the hotter the temperature will get. The sauna creates a very “dry” heat which brings on sweating very quickly.

Are saunas healthy?

Saunas certainly do have their benefits and are perfectly healthy and safe. However, you should be aware that heating the sauna to an extreme temperature and failing to keep hydrated can cause dizziness, high blood pressure, dehydration and even heat stroke. It is essential to remember to maintain your hydration levels and avoid spending prolonged periods in the sauna – take regular breaks to cool off.

What is the purpose of a sauna?

There are numerous proposed purposes for using a sauna which include enhancing recovery, improving cardiovascular capacity, fighting illness, burning calories, flushing out toxins, improving relaxation and relieving stress.

Is sweating good for losing weight?

Can you lose weight in a sauna? Yes.  Does the sauna burn fat? No.

The benefits of the sauna for weight loss tend to be short lived as excessive sweating does cause a drop in your body weight, however, the pounds that you have lost have come about through water leaving the body through sweating and has nothing to do with body fat reduction. Once you have rehydrated, your body weight will return to the previous level prior to stepping in the sauna. There is no correlation between the amount one sweats and losing weight; the only way sustainable weight loss occurs is through consuming less calories per day than you burn – also known as a calorie deficit.

So, if the sauna doesn’t directly impact fat loss, what does it do?

How does a sauna work?

Circulation

There are definite benefits of sauna after a workout and many athletes will spend time in the sauna as a method of recovery and relaxation after what may have been a very hard session. When the body is exposed to heat, vasodilation occurs. This is where the blood vessels expand allowing more blood to flood to the area. This has a positive impact on circulation and consequently can help loosen off any tight structures and improve range of movement. Due the rich blood flow, the body is able to provide nutrients more quickly to the muscles that require them thus shortening the recovery time.

Respiratory

Another supposed benefits of the sauna is to do with respiration (or breathing) in the dry heat. It has been reported that regular use of the sauna can help relieve asthmatics wheezing and, although it won’t heal you from a cold, it can be effective at relieving cold symptoms by clearing passageways and sinuses of mucus. There are also some studies that indicate a link may exist between taking regular saunas and improved heart health.

Relaxation / Stress

There is also a link between relaxation of the body and mind through regular visits to the sauna. It is suggested that a sauna session may release endorphins. Endorphins are a “feel good” hormone which induce a positive feeling in the body, will help you to relax and will also reduce pain sensation.

In conclusion, the benefits of the sauna for weight loss are short-term and the heat will sadly not torch away fat stores, however, it does still serve as a excellent tool for relaxation, recovery and health promotion.

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