Elite athletes! Want to improve your endurance? A sauna could be the answer
September 4, 2018 – If you’re a triathlete, marathon runner, a mountaineer, or avid cyclist, you might want to consider incorporating regular sauna use into your regimen to increase endurance and aid in injury recovery.
Ten years ago, a physiologist was tasked with preparing a marathoner for competing in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The summer was expected to be especially hot, and a regimen was established to help condition the runner’s body to be able to adapt and perform well in extreme heat conditions. This, in turn, led to the physiologist deciding to embark on a study with 20 cyclists on heat conditioning.
Well, when the results of his study were published, folks perked up and took notice. After ten days of training in 104-degree heat, the cyclists experienced a 5% improvement of their maximum oxygen uptake (VO2) and their one-hour time trial performance had a 6% upgrade!
Heat training appears to increase the volume of blood plasma to your muscles. Heat also acts as a shock to the system. The cellular response from heat exposure mimics what exercise and altitude do to your body. This would point to it being a smart way for high altitude climbers to up their game as they train for an ascent.
And—if you run into the unfortunate injury related to your love of sport, it appears that heat exposure can also help with recovery. A study in Qatar completed last year found a 17% boost in muscle strength at the wrap of eleven days of exposure to 120 degrees for an hour each day. A sauna session when recuperating from a muscle injury could actually speed up recovery and mimic some of the benefits of exercise when an injury prevents you from doing so.
Author: Don Riling
Don Riling is the President of Olympic Hot Tub and has been an active member of the hot tub industry for over 20 years. As the company’s owner since 2016, he has continued Olympic’s legacy of promoting health & wellness through hot water & sauna therapy.