The sauna is usually present in many gyms next to the steam baths, but is it also another method to lose weight? There is a myth that says that spending time in a sauna will make us eliminate fat through sweat. Below we are going to reveal if this is true or not.
Steam baths are sometimes also called “wet saunas,” but they’re not really a type of sauna. Sauna is a Finnish word that describes the specific high level of heat inside the room. On the other hand, a steam room is more related to a Turkish bath because of its high level of humidity.
Does the sauna lose weight?
The sauna is a custom of thousands of years ago and that many cultures have been adopting after knowing the benefits it brings. In this case we refer to the dry sauna, very different from Turkish or steam baths. Surely you have ever tried to get into this room with high temperature to know what it felt like.
Many say that spending time inside it makes you lose fat and lose weight quickly. Well, we have to say that this is a lie. The sauna will not make you lose fat, but liquid. It is true that if you weigh yourself when leaving a session, you will notice a weight loss due to sweating; but as soon as you resume your hydration, that weight will return.
On other occasions we have told you that fat loss only occurs with a healthy diet or diet and with the practice of exercise. The problem is that we want to lose weight sitting in a room at 70º and that, feeling it a lot, what it does is waste your time. To lose weight we have to lose fat and in the sauna we will only lose toxins with sweat.
It is important that you keep in mind that not everyone can withstand a session at that temperature. If you find yourself dizzy or anxious, get out because that’s not your job. We also have to keep in mind that we can not use it more than twice a day or more than three times a week.
Benefits of the sauna
That it does not make us lose fat does not mean that it does not bring benefits to our body and mind. Its de-stressing and relaxing effect releases endorphins and helps us fight insomnia. In addition, as we have said before, sweating eliminates toxins, makes us have a cleaner skin and helps us increase defenses.
Looking for the relationship with our training, a sauna session of about 20-30 minutes can increase the elasticity of your muscles and improve your cardiovascular function. The heart rate can increase to 100-150 beats per minute while using a sauna, so it can lead to some health benefits:
- Relieve pain. Increased circulation can help reduce muscle pain, improve joint movement, and relieve arthritis pain.
- Reduce stress levels. As the heat in a sauna improves circulation, it can also promote relaxation. This can help a greater sense of well-being.
- Skin problems. The sauna dries the skin during use. Some people with psoriasis may notice that their symptoms are reduced while using a sauna, although those with atopic dermatitis may find it worse.
- Asthma. People with asthma may find relief from some symptoms as a result of using a sauna. The sauna can help open the airways, loosen phlegm and reduce stress.
Risks to consider
The sauna is not made for everyone. Extreme heat causes your body to sweat, and when you sweat, you lose fluids. If you lose more fluid than usual, you can become dehydrated. According to Harvard Medical School, a person loses about half a liter of fluid for a short period of time in the sauna. However, if you drink enough water before, during, and after, fluids lost from sweating will be easily replaced.
Severe dehydration is an emergency. It is important to pay attention to your body and drink plenty of fluids if you practice sessions in a sauna. Watch for these signs of mild to moderate dehydration:
- Dry mouth
- Extreme thirst
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Not urinating as often as usual
Older adults and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and heart failure, or those who are pregnant, are at increased risk of dehydration.
Heart Health Hazards
The high levels of heat experienced in a sauna cause blood vessels to open and approach the surface of the skin. When blood vessels expand, circulation improves and blood pressure decreases.
Some studies have found links between sauna use and better heart health. However, people who have heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat or a recent heart attack, are usually told to avoid saunas.
People with high blood pressure can use them, although experts warn against switching between extremely high and low temperatures because it can raise blood pressure. Also, those taking heart medication should first consult with their doctor.
How can I do a sauna session?
Normally there is usually an explanatory panel on how to perform a sauna session, although in any case we will advise you how you could do it:
- Before entering, shower in the locker room with warm water and clean your skin.
- Enter the sauna and start by sitting on the lower bench. The first contact should never be made with the top bank.
- After 10-15 minutes go out and shower with cold water to make a temperature contrast.
- Take the necessary time before entering, and this time if you want you can place yourself on the upper bench.
- Go back out and shower with cold or warm water, and use a mane glove or exfoliating cream to remove sweat, impurities and dead cells from the skin.
- Relax and bundle up tightly to regain your body temperature. Try not to make sudden movements to avoid suffering a drop in tension.
- Finish hydrating yourself with water or an isotonic drink.
Something that we must emphasize is to avoid the consumption of alcohol. We know that this substance increases to dehydration, hypotension, arrhythmia and sudden death when entering a sauna or steam baths.
How long do you have to stay in?
If you’ve never used a sauna before, sauna experts say you should start small. Although some experienced users may turn the sauna into a longer social event, we should not overdo it. The longer we stay in the sauna, the greater the risk of dehydration, so a general rule of thumb is to limit the time to 15 to 20 minutes.
But to have some general guidelines, the recommended times are:
- For beginners. A sauna should not be used for more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
- After exercising. You have to wait at least 10 minutes before entering the sauna after doing a workout.
- At most. You should not be inside more than 15 minutes in a row.
One of the most important things to remember when using a sauna or steam bath is to take it easy. Although saunas are normally considered safe and offer potential health benefits, it is important to prevent dehydration. It’s important to know how you feel and how your body responds to heat may be different each time.
It is not recommended to use a sauna to provoke weight loss, which will be mainly water loss. It is recommended to drink water before and after using a sauna. If we are worried, it is advisable to talk to a doctor before getting into these types of places.