Should You Hit the Gym or Sauna? Research Shows It May Not Matter

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Which do you like more: a heart-pumping walk on the treadmill or a relaxing session in the sauna? While the latter may sound more appealing, popular wisdom would have you believe that you should choose the former because it has more health benefits. But that’s not necessarily true. Research shows that a 25-minute sauna session poses many of the same health benefits as a short, moderate workout.

Quick Read:
A 25-minute sauna session has the same cardiovascular benefits as a short, moderate workout session. How? During a sauna session, your blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate rise, which places your cardiovascular system under the same strain that it experiences while exercising. However, there are some things a sauna cannot do. Find out what they are in the last section of this article!

Should You Skip the Gym Altogether? Get the Answer Below!

Your Body While Exercising

Regular exercise has many benefits that stick around long after your exercise session has ended. But what exactly happens to your body while you’re exercising? Your lungs, in an effort to pump as much as 15 times more oxygen throughout your body, work faster and harder. Your heart rate increases to push your oxygenated blood to your muscles and brain. All of this improves your cardiovascular system’s efficiency, endurance and capacity.

Your brain also releases neurotransmitters that help keep you focused and improve your physical performance. Other neurotransmitters, endorphins and serotonin, make you feel good and lessen depression, respectively.

Your Body in the Sauna

According to Harvard Health Publishing, your body responds similarly while lounging in a sauna. Your heart rate increases by 30% or more, pushing more blood through your circulatory system. Your breathing increases, and your cardiovascular system improves. Blood rushes to the surface of your skin and to your brain. As you relax, your brain begins to release endorphins that lower your stress level, sharpen your brain and reduce your risk of depression.

All in all, being in a sauna places a physical strain on your body and cardiovascular system that’s similar to what you experience when you exercise. This causes your cardiovascular system to become more efficient, stronger and capable of pumping more oxygenated blood throughout your body.

Things the Sauna Can’t Do

It’s true; a sauna session delivers many of the same health benefits as moderate exercise. However, the benefits are largely limited to the cardiovascular system. Other things, like your muscles, are not challenged in a sauna session and are, therefore, not improved. Additionally, saunas are great for reducing water weight, but they don’t do much to burn fat. For this, you will need to rely on diet and traditional exercise.

You can gain many of the same health benefits from a workout session and a sauna session. However, there are certain benefits of exercise that a sauna cannot reproduce. For this reason, you should adopt a workout schedule that includes cardio and weight training. And if you want to swap out a workout or two for a sauna session, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!

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