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5 Benefits of Using Sauna, According to Doctor

Packed with physical and mental benefits, a sauna routine can be amazing, especially during the winter, when arctic temperatures can make you crave heat wherever you can find it. And sauna—which can be used as both a noun and a verb—can have an amazing impact on your skin, body, and mood.

People use sauna for different reasons, whether at home, in the spa, or in a gym locker room. In Finland and other Scandinavian countries, the sauna has a culturally significant role. It’s not uncommon for coworkers to bond in a sauna the way workers in the United States may hit happy hour, and many homes are built with an at-home sauna. But for many Americans, adopting a sauna routine may take a bit of practice.

You don’t necessarily need to leave the house to experience sauna benefits either. At-home sauna setups can range from round $100 to thousands of dollars depending on your choices. More expensive saunas tend to be ones to construct within your home or outdoors. Less expensive saunas are portable tent-like structures. Regardless of which you choose, make sure to follow any directions in setup and use.

You don't have to get totally naked to enjoy a sauna session either. “I've even advocated being fully clothed when taking a sauna to allow the clothing to absorb the sweat," says Melanie Keller, N.D., a naturopathic doctor. "You then remove the clothing immediately following the sauna before rising off.”

If you are ready to take on the heat, here are 5 benefits of sauna use.

Helps preserve muscle mass

Not only can using a sauna clear your mind, it could potentially help you reach your fitness goals faster, says McKinney. One recent study found that sauna use can help preserve muscle mass, as well as help guard against inflammation.

Boosts heart health

The sauna also may increase cardiovascular endurance, as it may decrease your resting heart rate over time.

That said, time in the sauna isn’t exactly the same as a traditional sweat session in the gym. Because you’re not actually using your muscles the way you would be if you were working out, sauna isn’t necessarily a standalone fitness benefit. However, used in conjunction with a workout plan, you may also find yourself being able to go harder for longer and recover more quickly than if you skipped the sauna.

Encourages water weight loss

Do saunas make you lose weight? While it may additionally seem you’ve dropped a few pounds post-session, experts say this is water weight and that the sauna itself is now not a weight-loss tool.

When should you sauna in relation to your workout? McKinney recommends either using the sauna on your off days, or hopping in the sauna for a sweat session after you entire your strength training. Just make sure to hydrate adequately.

Improves skin strength

Using a sauna can also be amazing for your skin, although the specifics may be up to your skin type. The heat of the sauna can help you slough off dry skin cells more easily, and sweating can additionally lead to better circulation and enhanced collagen production.

Clears your pores

Sweating can additionally help cleanse your pores, all of which is to say your skin may seem more clear after using the sauna. But if you have a skin circumstance such as eczema or psoriasis, experts caution that the sauna may additionally aggravate your skin. Speak to your dermatologist prior to using the sauna and stop if you notice any rashes or skin conditions develop. Since saunas can be moist, public saunas may be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, which could cause a potential skin condition.

Originally published: Men's Health

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