Benefits of Sauna Use
Fat Loss Benefits:
Hyperthermic conditioning from sauna use increases lipolysis and increases calorie expenditure during time spent in the sauna and further until the body temperature decrease back to baseline outside of the sauna. Usually heart-rate will increase to 100bpm-150bpm while in the sauna. Upward of 150bpm is considered to be in the cardio heart rate zone for most ages.
One study looking at norepinephrine secretion actually showed a 58% increase in norepinephrine. An increase in norepinephrine secretion plays a huge roll in body fat reduction due to an increase in fat oxidation for energy expenditure.
Longevity and Immune Support:
Hyperthermic conditioning activates heat shock proteins in our cells. The same study which cited the increase in norepinephrine also showed a 53.9% increase in heat shock proteins from a single session sauna use. These heat shock proteins which are in every cell in the body, prevents the damage to our cells due to age from folding and unfolding of the cell. Damaged cells in the body can lead to Rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is where a cell dies and leaks into your blood stream which then creates a toxic environment in the kidneys. This toxic process in the body reduces immune support and longevity. Heat shock therapy has the ability to turn on a longevity gene in the body called FOX03. FOX03 increases the expression of genes that repair cells and increases expression of genes which kill damaged cells. The FOX03 increases the expression of genes that cause autophagy which is when a damaged cell eat itself to produce new cells. A recent study which observed men who had been using a sauna 4-7 days per week for 20-30 minutes per session over a 20-year period had a 40% decrease in all-cause mortality. All-cause mortality refers to disease or cancer and does not include accidental death or “old age”. This study showed that individuals with higher amounts of heat shock proteins have a higher chance of being centenarians (living to 100 years old).
Performance and Muscle Building:
An increase in heat shock proteins in immobilized mice showed to have a decrease in atrophy compared to the control group and had a greater ability to gain muscle back post immobilization than the control group.
Heat shock proteins have the ability to stabilize the protein folds in the cells which can help the cells recovery much faster by allowing proper nutrients to get to these protein folds. When these protein folds are stacked correctly, higher amounts of amino acids are attracted to the cells to assist with recovering from exercise induced cell damage.
Hyperthermic conditioning also seems to have a positive effect on red blood cell production. One study showed a group of endurance athletes had a 32% increase in running to exhaustion length by using a sauna 2 times a week for 20-30 minutes. This was due to a 7.8% increase in red blood cell production from sauna use. That is a huge increase in performance that can benefit any endurance athlete that exercises or competes to near or to exhaustion.