The Health and Fitness Benefits of Sauna After a Workout

Did you know that sauna bathing after a workout has a significant enhancement on performance, especially endurance performance? According to an experiment conducted, male runners increased their blood volume while sauna bathing after workouts, which improved their endurance.

And this is only one of the benefits…

Working out is one of the most satisfying things you can do for yourself, and recovering well in a sauna will allow you to keep going and recover in time for your next training.

So yes, it is a great idea to get yourself the barrel sauna you have always dreamed of and to use it after a workout.

In this article, we will look at the benefits of sauna after workout.

What Is Hot Therapy?

“Hot therapy” generally refers to the use of heat to treat your body. It typically relaxes, alleviates pain, and helps with injuries.

Hot therapy can take several forms such as a hot bath, towels, sunlight, saunas, heat wraps, steam baths/rooms., or for deeper heat, infrared, and radiation. Today we will focus on the sauna…right after a workout.

However, it’s essential to use hot therapy with caution, especially if you have any medical conditions, and it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new therapy or treatment.

What are the Benefits of Sauna After Workout?

There are many benefits of using a sauna at any time during the day, but it might benefit you more after your workout.

Whether it is the sauna in your gym or the barrel sauna you have at home, it is rarely a bad idea to hop in the sauna after a workout.

Let’s see why.

1. Gainz (Build Muscle)

If you want to do your muscles justice, then hopping in the sauna right after your lifting is a good idea (of course, shower before entering).

Recent studies have shown that sauna improves muscle building.

Our muscles repair themselves thanks to a hormone called Human growth hormone (or HGH). This hormone is responsible for protein synthesis (breakdown of protein from foods) and tissue repairs in the muscles.

The heat from the sauna tends to release more of these HGH, favoring your muscle-building process and helping your gains.

However, it’s important to note that you need significant time in the sauna for these hormones to get released…For more info, read:

How Long To Stay In Sauna

2. Helps With Muscle Recovery

Benefits of sauna after workout: what it does to muscle recovery

One of the most significant benefits of a post-workout sauna is the positive impact on muscle recovery.

When we work out, we ”damage” (in a good way) and tire our muscles. In return, our body takes energy, such as glucose we get from food, and transforms it into lactic acid to fuel our cells.

The high temperature in the sauna, as well as the time spent in the sauna, increases blood flow, which can flush out lactic acid and other metabolic waste products that accumulate during exercise.

When in heat, the body accelerates blood circulation, which also delivers more oxygen and essential nutrients to the muscles, aiding repair and rebuilding.

As a result, your muscles are likely to recover faster, allowing you to return to your fitness routine with reduced soreness, or faster for that matter.

What's the difference between #1 and #2, and the benefits of sauna after workout.
In case you were wondering if I listed the same benefit twice!

3. Helps Heal Muscle Soreness

Sore muscles are what happens after a workout session. The exercise and stress you create on your body during exercise results in tired muscles.

A sauna session after a workout can significantly reduce the discomfort associated with muscle soreness, commonly referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

DOMS typically occurs 12 to 24 hours after a workout and can make it challenging to engage in training sessions afterward. This is the pain you feel in the morning after a challenging gym session!

There are many ways you can counter DOMS. The most popular way is taking an ice bath. However, there are benefits of trying the sauna.

The high temperatures in the sauna relax muscle fibers and release tension, reducing the perception of pain. It also increases the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers.

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4. Improves Your Flexibility and Joint Mobility

Heat exposure in a sauna can improve muscle flexibility and joint mobility.

This is because the high heat of the sauna tends to reduce muscle stiffness, making them more pliable, unlike cold exposure, where a cold plunge makes your muscles stiff. There are benefits to both, but hot therapy is linked to flexibility.

As your body temperature rises, your muscles become more relaxed (more flexible), making stretching exercises more effective and safe.

The heat also helps relax connective tissues, like your tendons and ligaments, making them more supple and responsive to stretching…and we all know how important those need to be healthy…

This increased flexibility is not only helpful for workout performance but also for everyday activities, as it helps prevent strains and injuries.

A common habit of mine is to stretch in the sauna.

I just found while writing this article that stretching when in a sauna can help increase your range of motion and reduce the risk of injury during workouts.

5. Enhanced Cardiovascular (Heart) Health

How sauna affect heart

Regular sauna use, especially after exercise, can have a positive impact on cardiovascular health.

When you’re in a clean sauna, your blood vessels dilate and your heart rate increases as your body works to cool down and maintain a stable core temperature.

This cardiovascular workout can be beneficial, especially for individuals who cannot engage in vigorous physical activity due to medical conditions or injuries.

Over time, sauna sessions can lead to improved cardiovascular fitness, low blood pressure, and enhanced circulation.

These benefits contribute to a reduced risk of heart disease and promote overall heart health.

Now, always make sure to consult with your doctor about using a sauna if you have heart problems. I must tell you that the use of a sauna is a bad idea if you have a heart disease.

6. Stress Reduction and Mental Health

While we always talk about the physical benefits of a sauna, we must note the mental benefits of sauna after workout.

Sauna sessions can help with stress relief and promote relaxation. The heat and quiet environment create a serene setting that allows for peace.

For athletes, mental restoration is an important thing. It’s the process of relaxing your mind so you can perform freshly the next time you train, and going in a sauna after a workout allows you to relax right away.

After a post-workout sauna session, I always feel more energetic the next training, and I strongly believe it is because of the heat therapy.

Sauna use also triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers, promoting feelings of well-being and reducing anxiety.

The practice of mindfulness and relaxation in a sauna can also help alleviate mental stress and improve sleep quality, which are two pillars of overall health.

I always meditate in the sauna to hit 2 birds with one stone. Saunas are naturally relaxing, which is what you need to meditate. Do not fall asleep in there, though.

7. Enhanced Immune Function

One of the many health benefits of regular sauna use is boosting your immune system. The high temperature in saunas tends to mimic the conditions the body undergoes during a fever.

This can help activate and strengthen the immune response and may lead to increased resistance to common illnesses and faster recovery from infections.

Hest from the sauna also stimulates the production of white blood cells, which play a crucial role in defending the body against pathogens (organisms causing disease to our bodies).

Whether it is after a workout or anytime during the day, heat therapy increases your immune system, just like cold therapy.

8. Weight Management (NOT WEIGHT LOSS)

Sauna bathing is reported to make one lose weight…temporarily.

There are two ways a sauna can help you with your weight loss:

  • Losing your water weight through sweat.

  • Raising your heart rate which helps burn calories.

I purposefully added ”temporarily” since water weight will be gained back once you hydrate yourself.

However, if you are on a weight loss journey, then a sauna can not only benefit you in calorie burn but also in optimizing your immune system, which is a long-term solution.

When combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, regular sauna use can aid in achieving weight loss and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Different Types of Sauna (And Their Benefits)

Saunas come in various types, each with its unique features and heating methods. Here are some of the most common types of saunas

Traditional Sauna

This is your typical ”gym sauna”, and it is the most common type.

This type of sauna is heated with an electric stove, wood-burning stove, or infrared heating elements.

There are two subcategories of the traditional sauna:

  • Dry Sauna: Usage of rocks or a heating element to generate dry heat.

  • Wet Sauna: Usage of rocks or a heating element to generate heat, but water is added for extra steam

Infrared Saunas

image of an infrared sauna

Uses infrared heaters to emit radiant heat that is absorbed directly by the body.

The reason you would choose the infrared saunas is because they operate at a lower temperature (usually between 120°F to 150°F), making it a more comfortable option for those who find traditional saunas too hot.

This type of sauna does not have humidity, instead, it raises your core body temperature with the lights emitted.

Don’t worry, the infrared saunas have similar health benefits as traditional saunas, such as detoxification and relaxation.

Steam Rooms

image of a steam room

The steam room provides a wet heat environment with high humidity levels (usually around 100% humidity).

Steam generators produce steam, which fills the room and raises the temperature.

You would go for a steam sauna because of its increased benefits regarding respiratory health, relaxation, and skin rejuvenation.

Smoke Sauna (Traditional Finnish Sauna)

Originating from Finland, this traditional type of sauna is heated by burning wood, usually with little to no chimney.

The burning wood produces smoke that fills the room, giving it a unique smoky aroma…it smells AMAZING!

Often considered an authentic and rustic sauna experience, its benefits can include better sleep quality and an immunity boost.

image of a wood burning sauna


The benefits of using a sauna after a workout are substantial and multifaceted.

From improved muscle recovery and reduced muscle soreness to cardiovascular health, detoxification, and stress reduction, saunas offer a plethora of advantages for the body and mind.

Integrating sauna sessions into your post-workout routine can enhance your overall well-being and help you achieve your fitness goals more effectively.

Warning About Saunas!!!

It’s important to note that while saunas offer numerous benefits, they may not be suitable for everyone.

Individuals with certain medical conditions or those who are pregnant should consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating sauna sessions into their fitness routine.

Additionally, it’s essential to stay hydrated, limit sauna exposure to recommended durations, and exit the sauna if you experience discomfort or dizziness.

The recommended sauna time by professionals is 15-20 minutes.


Scoon, G. S., Hopkins, W. G., Mayhew, S., & Cotter, J. D. (2007). Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners. Journal of science and medicine in sport10(4), 259–262.

Thermotherapy. Physiopedia. (n.d.).

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