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Have you ever wondered if the sauna produces the same results with a calorie burn as a regular cardio workout? Our gym is in the process of adding this feature as another added feature and I wanted to do some research for myself as to the benefits of the sauna. The sauna and cardio both exhibit healthy benefits but produce very different results.

Let's Talk Cardio

Examples of cardio that you typically find at a gym include:

Treadmills, Stair Climbers, Elliptical Machines, Row machines, Assault bikes or treadmills, Recumbent bikes, Stationary bikes and occasionally swimming if your gym has a pool.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), aerobic cardio reduces the risks of heart disease by 40% and they recommend 150 minutes per week of cardio activity.

Heart health is not the only benefit of cardio, it also increases HDL "our good cholesterol", controls blood sugar, improves endurance as well as lung function, aids in weight loss, and it increases our metabolism while decreasing our resting heart rate.

Typically, you won't see immediate weight loss after a cardio workout, but you will burn on average anywhere from 90-140 calories per 30-minute session depending on your weight. The more calories you burn the more you weight you ultimately lose.

Let's Talk Sauna

Examples of Saunas include:

A traditional or regular sauna (Steam Sauna), Dry sauna, or Infrared therapy sauna. The steam and dry heat sauna's temperature can be in the range of 90-185 degrees whereas the infrared sauna is usually between 120-140 degrees.

Benefits of a 20-minute sauna session include an Increased heart rate, soothes and relaxes sore, tense muscles, and it opens pores to encourage sweating that will help flush out toxins. Sweating out the toxins can have a positive effect on a variety of issues including allergies, fatigue, mood swings, acne, depression, and muscle/joint pain.

You can see a 1-3lb weight difference immediately after coming out of the sauna,

but it is water weight only and as soon as you rehydrate, the weight will go back up. There is no long-term weight loss from use of the sauna although you can burn close to 45 calories per 15-minute session.

Sauna and Cardio

Both the sauna and cardio increase your blood pressure and overall help "tone" your system by causing it to work harder for a short amount of time. They also help your resting heart rate become lower. Both help the body to release a natural chemical called "endorphins" which help relieve pain, reduce stress, improve your sense of well-being and help with sleep.

There is still lack of solid evidence and studies showing the full range of benefits from a sauna but there are also no known reports of negative side effects so far, beyond the ordinary cautions posted such as overheating, dehydrating, pregnant women or under the influence of medication or alcohol.

Things to remember:

-Always consult your doctor before adding any new cardio, weight resistance or sauna regimen to your routine.

-Drink plenty of water before and after your sauna visit.

-If you're not feeling well, skip the sauna.

-Do not stay longer than 20 minutes.

-If you're working out, save the sauna for the last thing that you do.

Aside from all that's been said, who doesn't love to have an awesome sweat and crazy, good endorphins when they are leaving the gym!!!!!!!!! You can absolutely bet that I'll be using our new saunas at Star Fitness. Enjoy the youthful glow and relaxed muscles my gym friends!!

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