One study demonstrated that a 30min session, 2xs a week for 3 weeks post workout, increased the time that it took for study participants to run until exhaustion by 32% compared to baseline.” Dr. Rhonda Patrick.
When used regularly, saunas are known to improve athlete endurance and tolerance levels for anaerobic exercises, as well as lead to greater physical performance in general. The heat emitted from an infrared sauna penetrates deep into the body and causes the heart rate to increase, which is a great way to work out your cardiovascular system without putting stress on a sore or injured body. According to the American Medical Association, “many of us who run do so to place a demand on our cardiovascular system, not to build big leg muscles. Regular use of indoor saunas may impact a similar stress on the cardiovascular system, and its regular use may be as effective, as a means of cardiovascular conditioning and burning of calories, as regular exercise.”
For athletes and those on fitness regimens, a sauna can be a supplemental method of burning calories (around 500 calories per sauna session! -Journal of American Medical Association report), a way of getting rid of fat cells and a means of boosting the metabolism. Saunas should not be used as a replacement for a traditional cardio workout, but make a great follow up to a workout as well as a way to stay fit while injuries prevent athletic mobility.
The actual amount of calories burned off in the sauna can be measured by measuring transpiration. Every gram of transpiration uses 0.586 Cal -Guyton’s Textbook of Medical Physiology. The average person will sweat off half a liter during a session in an infrared sauna. That is equivalent to 1,000 grams, or over 500 calories.
The relaxing effect that deep penetrating infrared heat has on tired, sore or damaged athlete muscles is manifold. The blood vessel dilation and increased circulation brought on by the heat will help tired muscles repair and strengthen themselves more efficiently. Also, the loosening of the muscles, reduction in lactic acids and decreased swelling that are induced by the heat will ease the pain of tight or worn muscles.
FIR sauna’s provide the ideal way for an athlete to have a thorough warm-up to increase flexibility and prevent unnecessary injury. When tissues are warmed to 112 degrees Fahrenheit and then stretched, they retain roughly 0.5-0.9% of their length indefinitely. Thus 20 stretching sessions can result in a 10-18% increase in the length of tissues that are stretched in conjunction with infrared heat. (Justus Lehmann M.D., Williams and Wilkins, Therapeutic Heat and Cold.)
The heat from the infrared rays is able to go deep into the joints of an ailing athlete. As the heat relaxes the muscles around the joint, less strain and pressure is placed on the region. This helps improve their ability to repair and heal.