There is an interesting study showing that a visit to the sauna can help increase heart rate. This mimics the increase in heart rate seen in short, moderate workouts. The study provides a new level of understanding of how people can achieve their fitness goals by incorporating a sauna experience to their exercise regimen.
Researchers at the Medical Center Berlin and Martin Luther University Haile-Wittenberg were able to conclude that a trip to the sauna is equivalent to having a moderate-intensity exercise. Study participants used either a bicycle ergometer or a sauna facility to help in the determination of the research outcomes.
Prior to the study, most people believed that a visit to the sauna can lower blood pressure. Heat increases the diameter of the blood vessels. This causes a reduction in the speed of blood coursing through the arteries.
Because of the slower blood flow, there is also a concomitant reduction in resistance to blood flow. This causes a net reduction in blood pressure.
The study refutes this conventional notion. It showed that short, moderate-intensity exercises cause an increase in heart rate. It also increases blood pressure. These physiologic changes in the blood vessels also occurred in the participants who used the sauna for 25 minutes.
While the research showed an increase in blood pressure in the initial stages of the sauna therapy, it did show something else. A few minutes after the sauna session, blood pressure levels began to drop to lower than baseline levels.
For example, individuals with a baseline blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg before the sauna were able to increase their BP to 140/85 during the session. Several minutes after the sauna experience, the same individuals showed blood pressure readings lower than 120/80 mm Hg, several minutes after the sauna experience.
The same physiologic response was also observed among the participants who used the stationary bike. There is a commensurate increase in blood pressure during the exercise. There is also a reduction in BP several minutes afterwards.
The implications of the study are immense. In general, individuals with low blood pressure or heart disease are often advised not to use sauna facilities. The reduction in blood pressure can increase the risk of fainting, leading to injuries.
However, it is important to take note that going to a sauna proves to be beneficial to “healthy” individuals. The increase in blood pressure is only temporary. The resulting reduction in blood pressure a few hours after the sauna experience can help lessen the stress on the heart.
What the study proves is that going to the sauna is equivalent to taking short bursts of moderate-intensity exercises. One can always integrate sauna visits to a comprehensive fitness program.
Going to the sauna can help individuals achieve their fitness goals in a shorter period of time. Combining this with sensible nutrition can help improve the achievement of fitness goals.
Going to the sauna puts a strain on the body, especially the heart. This is similar to moderate-intensity exercises. The aftereffects are also similar in that the sauna experience can also reduce blood pressure and heart rate.