WHEN A PANDEMIC KEEPS YOU FROM THE SAUNA


Maybe you’ve driven by your gym once or twice since mandated shut downs were put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus. Maybe you miss that sweaty, crowded place more than you ever thought. Maybe, just maybe, it misses you too. Well, maybe not, but we are definitely all hopeful we will be back sooner rather than later. Home workouts, streaming classes, and outdoor running have taken the place of fitness centers for the time being, but what about your regular sauna habits? Those trips to the sauna were advantageous to your health in so many ways:

          Improved circulation=faster muscle recovery
          Increased heart rate=improved cardiovascular health
          Increase white blood cells=stronger immune system
          Improved mood
          Decreased stress
          Better athletic performance
          Lower blood pressure
          Balance blood sugars

Since you may not have access to a sauna right now, there is an at-home option that can provide similar benefits–your bathtub. While a bathtub is not as effective as a sauna (the temperature is generally inconsistent and you habitually cool yourself by placing an arm or leg outside the water), it is capable of raising your core body temperature and eliciting a hyperthermic response not too dissimilar from a trip to the sauna.
One rudimentary study took a group of men who took baths at 104°F for an hour and measured that they expended 80% more energy than those were passively resting. This equates to about a 25-30 minute walk. While it may seem more efficient (and also beneficial) to take the walk, the combination of the two–light exercise followed by a long hot bath–may be the cure for those quarantine blues. Additionally, it can promote relaxation and initiate a better night’s sleep.
Saunas run far hotter (>174°F) than a bath should ever reach. They can get your body to peak hyperthermic conditions much quicker than basic bathing can. However, if you cannot make it to a sauna right now, take a long soak in the tub and daydream of virus-free days.