Saunas are designed to help you cleanse your body and to relax. All you do is sit in them, letting your body sweat. What you may not have known, however, is that going to the sauna is also an excellent weight loss exercise. It seems, therefore, that there really is such a thing as doing nothing but losing weight at the same time! Let’s take a look at how you can make the sauna work in your favor.
How a Sauna Can Help You Lose Weight
What a sauna basically does is heat up your core temperature. This makes your body work harder, as it tries to make you cool down. Any work that your body does equates to burning calories.
Sauna increases your circulation; makes you sweat and helps you shed salt and water, thereby allowing you to lose extra weight. It also helps boost metabolism so your system will be revved up and you will lose weight more quickly.
Did you know that a half hour sauna session can make you burn between 300 and 500 calories? That is the equivalent of an hour of really strenuous aerobics! And best of all, you lose those calories without having to exert yourself. Instead, you will spend your time simply relaxing.
How to Make the Sauna Work for You
The fact that you burn calories in a sauna is indisputable. However, you should not treat it as a miracle that requires you to do nothing else. This is because it will not help you build any muscle. This is why you should use the sauna as part of your routine, in the same way as professional athletes do, working your muscles and allowing them to relax afterwards.
There’s no problem with joining the leagues of people who make sitting in a hot box a fundamental part of their regular workout regime, in fact, there are debatably some health benefits to be gained from it. Just make sure that your main objective is not solely to lose weight; the calories burned in those sitting sessions are not substantial, you aren’t burning fat, and you are not building muscle.
The Detox Element
The vast majority of calories you burn in the sauna equates to nothing but water weight. There are a few things you can do to also work on your regular fitness, including hot yoga. More on that later. But perhaps the greatest benefit of the sauna in terms of your overall weight loss is the fact that it helps to detox the body.
Sweat is composed of lymphatic fluid, so any toxins in the lymphatic system are expelled when you perspire. The elimination of toxins, such as heavy metals, helps you burn fat more effectively because they are not hindering your metabolism any longer.
Before talking about hot yoga, it is important that you understand that this is not something you should do on your own. Hot yoga is incredibly strenuous, and many people have fainted while doing it. This is why you should actually do it in a purpose-built sauna room, and under the guidance of a yoga practitioner. Luckily, hot yoga (or Bikram yoga) is becoming increasingly popular, which means you should be able to find a studio near you.
Bikram yoga is a 90-minute program that consists of a series of 26 postures. The postures require lengthy, forceful and well-controlled contractions of all major muscle groups. The demanding nature of the poses and the heat are designed to raise your heart rate and tire your muscles.
A 90 minute hot yoga session burns on average 330 calories. This may seem low, since it has been previously mentioned that a half hour sauna session can burn 500 calories. However, this is because the Bikram studio is slightly less hot than a full studio, and because you will drink a lot of water during the workout so as not to dehydrate. As such, the calories you burn are net calories, and the weight you lose won’t simply be water.
Getting Your Sauna Experience Right
The best way to use a sauna to your weight loss advantage is to incorporate it into your full workout regime. You should try, for instance, to work a muscle group with weights, and then spend half an hour in the sauna. Not only will it help you keep your metabolism running quickly, it will also help you to heal your muscles from the strain that you have just put them under. Finish off by drinking a lot of water, and you should experience quite significant benefits to your overall weight and toning.ç
A Word of Caution
Clearly, the sauna is the weight loss miracle people have been waiting for. In fact, they didn’t even have to wait for it, because the sauna has been around for a very long time. People simply didn’t know that it could be used for weight loss. However, there is one thing to be aware of, as it may be tempting to spend hours on end in the sauna just to lose a bit of weight. The danger is that you can dehydrate and that can be very detrimental for your health.
Extreme heat makes your body sweat, and when you sweat you lose fluids. When you lose more fluid than what you’re taking in, you can become dehydrated. There is a risk of getting dehydrated from being in a sauna. According to Harvard Medical School, the average person loses about one pint of body fluid during a short time in the sauna. However, if you drink enough water before, during, and after your time in the sauna, you will replace the fluids lost by sweating.
So yes, some of the weight you will lose during the sauna is water weight, which you will put straight back on as soon as you have a drink. However, what you burn is still more than what you lose in water weight. You just have to make sure that you don’t overdo it and integrate this practice to your healthy diet and regular exercise.