Sauna and Hot Tub Enhances Health, Muscle Growth & Fat Loss!
Posted on July 21 2018
By Steve Blechman
FEEL THE HEAT!
A new Finnish study further confirms that sauna can improve health, lower blood pressure and prevent stroke. It was published in the journal Neurology. Another study confirmed that sauna can reduce the risk of high blood pressure. It was published in the American Journal of Hypertension. The study surveyed 1,621 middle-aged men over the course of 25 years with normal blood pressure.
“Regular sauna bathing is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension, and decreased cardiovascular risk associated with sauna use…” per the American Journal of Hypertension. The heat from sauna improves endothelial and vascular function by improving blood flow and circulation.
I’ve been a big fan of sauna and hot tubs for many years. Heat therapy is an exciting area of research for maintaining cardiovascular health, insulin function, muscle growth, brown fat activation and fat loss. The science supporting the health benefits of sauna is very impressive. I take a 15-20-minute sauna after every workout, and occasionally I enjoy a soak in the hot tub for relaxation and recovery. The sauna and hot tub increase nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator and most likely one of the mechanisms for its blood pressure-lowering effect. Nitric oxide increases brown fat. Brown fat is the “good fat.” The more brown fat that you have, the more calories that you burn!
The first time I experienced sauna was when I was in college on a four-year wrestling scholarship. After my wrestling workouts, I would sit in the sauna for enhanced recovery and to enhance fat loss. I would get ripped to shreds! Of course, back then, I didn’t know the mechanisms of sauna for getting so ripped, but now we know! Heat increases muscle satellite cells, growth factors and protein synthesis. Cold-water immersion is a popular strategy that is used by many athletes to recovery from exercise. A study in the Journal of Physiology, published 8/13/2015, found that cold-water immersion prevented long-term gains in muscle mass and strength. Research has shown that cold-water immersion after a workout can inhibit strength for two days! Also, there have been reports that cold-water immersion or jumping into cold water can cause fatal heart attacks! I know some people who have dived into a cold pool and had suffered a heart attack! The cold water is a shock to the system, releasing tons of adrenaline and vasoconstriction. Frequent cold exposure is detrimental to the cardiovascular system. That’s why people that live in warmer climates such as Florida and Arizona have lower cardiovascular and stroke incidents. Most recently in the International Journal of Biometeorology, July 2018, it was found that sudden cold weather may increase stroke mortality. Recent research has shown that sauna and hot tub can enhance muscle growth and fat loss, by increasing growth hormone (GH) levels. GH enhances lipolysis, fat oxidation and fat burning. In fact, studies have shown a 5- to 16-fold increase from sauna and hot tub!
Sauna and hot tub also increases heat-shock-proteins (HSP-90), which enhance insulin sensitivity and repair damaged proteins that are produced in the body in response to heat shock. Since sauna can increase insulin sensitivity, it can enhance fat loss and promote muscle growth.
Research has shown that the sauna can increase muscular endurance by increasing red blood cell levels and stimulating the hormone erythropoietin (EPO), which can increase oxygen delivery, especially to muscle tissue. I’m very surprised that more athletes have not incorporated sauna into their daily workouts for recovery, and as a performance enhancer. Give it a try – science supports it and you won’t regret it!
Sauna Bathing and Incident Hypertension: A Prospective Cohort Study Francesco Zaccardi Tanjaniina Laukkanen Peter Willeit Setor K KunutsorJussi Kauhanen Jari A Laukkanen. American Journal of Hypertension, Volume 30, Issue 11, 1 November 2017, Pages 1120-1125, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajh/hpx102 https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article-abstract/30/11/1120/3867393/Sauna-Bathing-and-Incident-Hypertension-A?redirectedFrom=fulltext
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Sauna bathing reduces the risk of stroke in Finnish men and women. Setor K. Kunutsor, Hassan Khan, Francesco Zaccardi, Tanjaniina Laukkanen, Peter Willeit, Jari A. Laukkanen. Neurology May 2018, 90 (22). e1937-e1944; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005606
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