There are so many sauna benefits to enjoy when you own a JNH Lifestyles sauna! If you are passionately into sports, and strive to be in good shape and health, then frequent sessions in an infrared sauna can provide you with many physiological benefits like stronger muscles and better cardiac efficiency.
But did you know that regular sauna sittings can help your body become more tolerant towards heat? This is vital for those who take part in endurance sports.
How Does Heat Acclimation Boost Endurance?
Athletes—actually anyone for that matter—can benefit from a higher level of endurance since it serves as an instrument for many aspects of your general health, including a healthy heart.
Regular exercise, particularly when done at high intensity, is the main method to enhance your endurance via boosting your body temperature with each workout 1.
The act of hyperthermic conditioning, or “acclimating yourself to heat independent of aerobic physical activity through sauna use, 2” was coined by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, PhD, the health & wellness industry’s guru of nutrition, longevity and optimal health. Studies are proving that hyperthermic conditioning increases endurance as it brings about transformations in your body that make it more accessible to perform when your temperature is heightened. When you subject your body to moderate amounts of heat stress (sauna use in example), it becomes acclimated to the heat, causing several health benefits to happen in the body (increased plasma volume and blood flow to your heart and muscles) and in turn, boosting athletic endurance. Additionally, the body benefits from increased muscle mass because of the greater levels of heat shock proteins (Hsps) and growth hormones.
According to one study, participants who had a 30-minute sauna session at least twice a week for three weeks after their workouts increased their time it took to run until they felt fatigued by more than 30% 1.
Other physiologic transformations that happen from hyperthermic conditioning include 1:
●Improved cardiovascular mechanisms
●Increased blood flow to skeletal muscle and other tissues
●Increased efficiency of oxygen transport to muscles
●Lower core body temperature during exercise
●Reduced rate of glycogen depletion due to improved muscle perfusion
●Higher sweat rate and sweat sensitivity as a function of increased thermoregulatory control
●Increased red blood cell count
Hyperthermic Conditioning Encourages Muscle Growth and Longevity
When the body releases HGH (Human growth hormone), this is a form of hyperthermic conditioning that increases muscle growth. It also lowers the amount of protein degradation that organically happens when you use and do not use your muscles. This results in an increase of net protein synthesis in your muscles, which eventually encourages muscle growth.
Another way heat stress prevents protein degradation is by setting off heat shock proteins (Hsps), which your body’s cells use to counteract potentially damaging stimulus.
In situations when a cell is exposed to a hostile environment, the DNA separates in specific regions and starts to read the genetic code to generate these stress proteins. Hsps are what the doctor ordered since they help to prevent and repair damaged proteins.
Studies revealed that when rats were exposed to intermittent heat sessions, they had a healthier and stronger boost of heat shock proteins linked to 30% more muscle regrowth when compared to the researchers’ control group. The levels of Hsps lasted for up to 48 hours after the heat session and could lead to a higher level of heat shock proteins even when an individual is not exercising. When you do exercise, heat acclimation can trigger a greater release in Hsps than normal.
This proves that hyperthermic conditioning can increase a person’s heat shock proteins which they reap the benefits from muscle growth and so much more! As well, heat exposure has shown to increase the lifespan by up to 15% in flies and worms, which is thanks to higher Hsps. One specific Hsps, the Hsp70 gene, has been linked with increased longevity, which indicates that there are anti-aging benefits when you regularly expose your body to heat stress.
If you are an athlete or a person who enjoys doing a lot of sports, you will want to have a sauna accessible to help you relax post-workout. Keep in mind that as you ease your muscles, the infrared sauna is working hard to give you an endurance boost, increase growth hormone levels and longevity!
(Thank you to the Peak Centre Academy for Athletic & Academic Excellence for their excellent insight and continuous study on this subject!)
1 Patrick, Rhonda P., and Teresa L. Johnson. “Sauna Use as a Lifestyle Practice to Extend Healthspan.” Experimental Gerontology, Pergamon, 5 Aug. 2021, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0531556521002916.
2 Patrick, Dr. Rhonda “Hyperthermic Conditioning for Hypertrophy, Endurance and Neurogenesis,” FoundMyFitness.com April 10, 2014, https://www.foundmyfitness.com/episodes/hyperthermic-conditioning