The Power of HEAT – and KDA’s New Sauna!
KDA CrossFit is putting in a sauna! No, it’s not just for relaxation; it’s actually an incredibly powerful training tool that has TONS of positive effects on the body and the brain.
When we exercise, what we are really training our bodies to do is become more resilient to stress (in this case, physical stress) BY practicing stressing it regularly. Hyperthermic conditioning (as we do when we sauna) can help improve our resistance to the sorts of physical stress that our fitness endeavors put on us. Just like fitness programs like CrossFit, hyperthermic conditioning requires us to approach it deliberately, with caution, and after speaking with a doctor.
It turns out there are countless benefits to heat therapy. Sauna is a great way to submit your body to hyperthermic conditioning aka heat stress.
Hyperthermic conditioning is shown to have the following benefits:
- Improve endurance by reducing heart rate and core body temperature, as well as improving nutrient and oxygen delivery to muscles during workouts/physical stress, reducing glycogen depletion, and increasing red blood cell count.
- It increases muscle growth by causing a massive release of growth hormone, as well as increasing insulin sensitivity.
- Helps the brain by: increasing the release and storage or norepinephrine, which improves focus and attention; increases prolactin, which causes your brain to function faster and repair damaged neurons; increases BDNF, which helps grow new brain cells, improving your ability to retain new information and eases anxiety and depression; and increases dynorphin, which sensitizes your body to endorphins.
Additionally, hyperthermic conditioning can protect against rhabdomyolysis, is shown to increase longevity, can speed recovery from injury and recovery from workouts, and even give a “runner’s high”.
When should I sauna?
At least 2 hours before exercise, or 1-2 hours after exercise. Not too late at night, as it could affect sleep.
How long should I stay in?
Be smart, listen to your body (and your doctor). If you start to feel faint or sick, get out immediately. Start by working to accumulate 20-30 minutes total, in 5-10 minute increments. Eventually, build to 10-15 minutes in the sauna, with 15 minute cooling periods between out of the sauna, 4 times.
Words of caution:
- With all that being said, heat responsibly – never alone.
- Don’t sauna under the influence of alcohol or drugs. EVER.
- Don’t sauna when pregnant.
- Consult your doctor before starting any exercise or hyperthermic conditioning program.
Infrared vs. Traditional Finnish Saunas
Please note, infrared saunas, although common and also hot, do not provide the same benefits as the dry sauna, which is why KDA opted for the traditional Finnish sauna. While infrared does heat the body quickly from the inside out, it can also expose you to high electromagnetic radiation, which can cause problems (2, 3). Additionally, the Finnish sauna can be used as dry or wet: “Initially, the sauna will feel warm and dry, but once you toss some water on the rocks, hot steam is generated, which helps open your pores and induces sweating” and is great for detoxifying your water-based organs; “if you have lung, kidney, or bladder problems, a steam bath with some essential oil can be beneficial…. Furthermore, viruses and toxin-laden cells are weaker than normal cells and tolerate heat poorly, so raising your body temperature helps heal infections quicker” (3).
Make sure you drink mineral water (and/or our fancy FloWater!) to rehydrate and replenish.
When will the KDA Sauna be here?
Mid-August! Let the healing begin!
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