If your gym has a sauna, there's a good chance you've gotten curious and given it a go. Inside are usually a bunch of sweaty people in towels. Some look happy. Some looked like they've been trapped there for years. But still—if it's in a gym, a sauna must be good for you, right?
After all, saunas are intrinsic to many cultures, so it would seem that something that's been used for hundreds of years couldn't possibly be dangerous or it would have been abandoned long ago. But that's not the case. Here's the good news and bad news:
Probably the biggest benefit to the sauna is the effect it has on relaxation. Step into a dry heat and your muscles seem to melt. Plus, since the temperature of a sauna is between 170-212 degrees, the skins’ internal temperature increases greatly, causing a dilation of capillaries that increases blood circulation.
There's some discussion about saunas alleviating the symptoms of depression, and that could be true, especially because saunas separate you from your cellphone, and that alone could lend to less stress.
Because saunas are a drier heat, they'll dry your skin out. If you choose to use the sauna for its other health benefits, put a cold towel over your face while inside and moisturize afterwards. In fact, it would be smart to use an intensely hydrating mask as soon as possible. Also, your body will be dehydrated after the sauna, so be sure to replenish it with electrolytes and water.
Oh, and the claim about saunas helping you lose weight? Sadly, that's just water weight. You'll still have to use the rest of the gym to help you lose fat.