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Sauna - The Ultimate Health Tool
"A Day We Sweat Is A Day We Don't Age"
Saunas have been a hot topic in recent health and fitness studies. The original theses were all grounded in Broscience, which have now been proven as real science (my favorite phenomena).
The research has pointed to the fact that the use of saunas has been linked to a plethora of health benefits to include: better hormone production, release of toxic chemicals, longevity, and even muscle growth.
When we get into a sauna, we enter a state of hyperthermia—a state where your body is heated well beyond baseline. Entering this state has an immense amount of health benefits when done safely. Safely is the key word because excessive heating can cook your brain.
Why The Sauna
Emerging research states that temperature has a greater effect on our body than we once thought. We’ve known cold has it’s benefits, but what is interesting is the benefits of temporarily exposing our bodies to levels of high heat.
First and foremost, the heat can be very relaxing. Anything that can relax us is going to be a huge tool in our repertoire as excess stress kills us faster than anything else. The sauna also has plenty of other practical health benefits.
Sweating is good for you, this has been known for a long time. This is one of our body’s ways of expelling toxins. This is seen especially with heavy metals and phytoestrogens. The last part is especially important because phytoestrogens are detrimental to our hormone health and can disrupt our hormone production (lower testosterone and increase estrogen).
It is very difficult to avoid toxins and heavy metals—even with the most strict diet, clean practices and sourcing, and other preventative means—toxins are still entering through various sources around us. These toxins are wreaking havoc on our body through many different pathways and causing chronic disease in some cases.
Luckily, most of these toxins can be dispelled through sweating, hence a HUGE benefit of the sauna.
Is Sweating The Only Benefit?
It actually appears that the heat has plentiful benefits on our body outside of just expelling toxins (otherwise you could just sweat hard in the gym and get the same benefit).
The sauna has been found to boost our immune system and help fight off the common cold.
We can also see an improvement in our lipid profile which is extremely beneficial. Heart disease is the number one killer, and most of this comes down to having suboptimal lipid profiles.
There has been a buzz, courtesy of Dr. Rhonda Patrick (whom I disown now, still kinda a babe) about something called “Heat Shock Proteins”. What the hell are these? Without boring you with a whole paragraph of scientific literature, these are simply proteins that can be produced by cells in response to stressful situations. In this instance, that stressor is the heat.
The Heat Shock Proteins do a vast amount of actions in the body that can help improve your health from improving cellular health, increasing the immune system, prevent heart disease and diabetes, regulate hormone levels, and more.
This is a rather substantial health benefit alone, but wait there’s more (jk not trying to sell you a sauna.. today).
An extremely interesting benefit of the sauna is its ability to increase neurogenesis—the process by which new neurons are formed in the brain. This can help with cognitive abilities and help fight anxiety, depression, and save your from diseases like Alzheimer’s.
There are also some acute responses in our body’s hormone production—specifically Growth Hormone—that are pretty substantial and can have a lasting effect. Using the sauna 7 consecutive days in a row boosted Growth hormone production by 16 fold—yes, 1,600% in a recent study1. This is a MASSIVE increase in circulating Growth Hormone—whether the result is acute or not.
Sauna For Gains?
Even with all of these immense benefits, evidence points to the fact that the sauna can be directly beneficial to building and holding onto muscle mass. The heat shock proteins previously mentioned have a great effect on Muscle Protein Synthesis.
There is also a rather impressive increase in insulin sensitivity which helps our body shuttle nutrients more efficiently to the muscles when eating our meals.
All-in-all this is quite an impressive tool with numerous studies and scientific literature backing up the benefits.
Before giving you a protocol, for the love of god please do not jump right in if you have an existing medical condition—consult your doctor. I am a Cartoon Bodybuilder Chad Scientist relaying research—this IS NOT medical advice.
Now that that’s out of the way, the main thing we want to focus on is temperature. Between 170-210 degrees fahrenheit seems to be the sweet spot for all the benefits listed above.
Duration is anywhere from 5-20 minutes—the studies done specifically on Growth Hormone were done in increments of 20-30 minutes of sauna, followed by a period of cooling, and then another 20-30 minutes.
My general recommendation is 10-20 minutes, 3 days a week for practical purposes. I utilize the sauna on rest days and would NEVER go before a workout. That is a recipe for disaster.
If you decide to go after your workout, hydrate and consider supplementing with EAA’s or a Scoop or 2 of whey protein to start the recovery process. Ensure you are hydrating properly—the goal isn’t to dehydrate, it’s to use the heat for a body response and eliminate toxins.
Putting It All Together
We can see that adding the sauna into our tool box for both recovery and health can be extremely beneficial.
Heat therapy has been used for years and the research is finally proving what we’ve known for a long time (oh so typical).
If you can get into the sauna even once a week, you will more than likely see improvements with both your health and mood (and even your athletic performance).
Outside of a home gym, a sauna (relatively cheap if you’ve been hustling online and stacking coins) is a must in my personal opinion.
“A day we sweat is a day we don’t age”.
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.