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Sauna, a Finnish word and essential part of Finnish health, is considered a standard rather than a luxury. Primitive saunas dug into a slope on a hill, had a fire pit in the middle. After the industrial revolution the sauna evolved to a small wooden room with heated rocks or used infrared lights to create heat. Sauna use is added to exercise regimes to aid with detoxification. You can exercise before or after sauna use.

Features of a Sauna

The temperature of a dry sauna is about 70 degrees Celsius or 154 degrees Fahrenheit. This forces your body to sweat and increases your heart rate. The energy utilized during a thirty minutes sauna session is approximately the same as running 10 kilometers. After sauna use your body perceives it has just received exercise. This is why you need to consider your fluid intake whether you exercise before or after sauna use.


Water needs to be replaced when exercising. You lose water from sweating and from breathing. Relaxing in a sauna forces your body to sweat, causing water and electrolyte loss. Replace fluids by drinking eight to 16 oz. of water after your sauna session. It is not recommended to consume a large meal before sauna or exercise. Your body needs fuel, however a lighter snack is more appropriate. You should also have another snack after exercising and using a sauna. If you use a sauna before exercise your muscles will be very relaxed and you risk injury or becoming dehydrated.

Expert Insight

According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson, MD, it is recommended initially to spend no more than 20 minutes in a sauna. After using a sauna successfully a few times, this can be increased up to 40 minutes. You should never use a sauna more than once a day. It is most beneficial to use a sauna first thing in the morning or right before bed. Your exercise can happen either before or after sauna use, but not immediately following.

Benefits of Sauna Use After Exercise

Use of a sauna after exercise increases endurance. A three week study conducted by the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, discovered after long-distance runners spent 30 minutes in a sauna after exercising their blood volume was increased. This lead to greater endurance for the next work-out session. However, athletes were used for the study, which are already in top physical condition. This should be considered with your exercise regime.