In winter, there’s nothing better than sweating it out in the sauna. It’s said to be healthy, detoxifying and best of all…anti-ageing. But what about the latest rumours going around? Can saunas also boost our weight loss and even athletic performance?
Sweat more perform better?
The majority of people regularly visit the sauna for the simple and straightforward reason to relax. Little do they know that by raising the heat, they could also be raising their endurance levels. A study showed that athletes who visited the sauna three times a week increased their athletic endurance by around 25% when sticking to their regular training routine. The reason: Heat is said to increase the blood volume – and with it the blood plasma – which facilitates the activity of the heart and increases water reserves. Larger water reserves help the body to better regulate its intrinsic temperature and with this, the natural tolerance of exhaustion increases. It’s like your body has a base line, and every time you go to the sauna, this baseline is raised a little – meaning that over time it takes more for your body to feel exhausted.
Fire up the muscles
Muscle growth is usually connected to weight-lifting, bodyweight training and getting our gains through protein. But what if we told you that the sauna could also play a part in your hustle for the muscle?
Hypertrophy is the term used to describe muscle growth or more specifically, the increase of muscle size through an increase of tissue due to the enlargement of cells. In our muscles a balancing act takes place between the synthesis of new proteins and the degeneration of already existing proteins. What this means is that new proteins are transported to the muscle whereas old proteins are disposed of. For the muscle to grow, more proteins have to be synthesised than degenerated. The heat of the sauna, slows down the degeneration of proteins and therefore results in the muscle growing faster.
Stronger, longer, better … what comes next?
And there’s even more…
The heat of the sauna also promotes the so called neurogenesis – the increased production of the growth hormone BDNF in the brain. This protein stimulates the growth of new brain cells as well as protects already existing neurons. Science proves that BDNF increases the learning aptitude and the long term memory of the brain.
Think about it…there’s no reason not to love the sauna. Get out of the cold, into the heat, relax and enhance your performance all at once. The proof is in your body, brain and breadth.