Outdoor sauna and cold plunge. What’s it all about? How do two contrasting extremes work so well together? And, what are the benefits? When the intense heat of a sauna meets the invigorating chill of a cold plunge – magic happens! Buckle up and enjoy the ride. This article covers everything you need to know about outdoor sauna and cold plunge.
Why Do People Cold Plunge When Using Sauna?
Combining outdoor sauna and cold plunge is one of the most intriguing customs of Nordic cultures – the birthplace of the outdoor sauna. The cold plunge sauna routine has been practiced for centuries and is a common sight in modern gyms and spas. All you have to do is spend some time working up a sweat in the intense heat of a sauna. Then, step outside and plunge your whole body into cold water. The shock to the system is powerful, invigorating, and refreshing.
Benefits of Cold Plunge & Outdoor Sauna
What are the benefits of combining outdoor sauna and cold plunge? While relaxing in the heat of a sauna sounds tempting and relaxing for many individuals, jumping into a tub of cold water is a step too far for many. A cold plunge involves immersing your body in cold water for a brief period of time. It is also known as a cold bath or cold immersion.
The water in a cold plunge is much lower temperature than regular body temperature. Typically, the water ranges from 50°F (10°C) right down to freezing temperatures. The practice of combining outdoor sauna with cold plunge is believed to offer a wide range of health benefits, see below.
Increased Circulation and Blood Flow
One of the top benefits of jumping in a sauna and immersing in cold water is – increased circulation and blood flow. Alternating between the heat of a sauna and the cold temperatures of icy water promotes the expansion and contraction of blood vessels. Blood vessels expand while in the sauna and then contract when immersed in a cold bath. This cycle is believed to improve blood circulation and boost oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles and tissues. Win, win.
Speeds Up Muscle Recovery
Sauna and cold plunge are great for muscle recovery. Immersion in cold water is well known to reduce inflammation and relieve muscle soreness. This is great for athletes after an intense workout. The practice alleviates muscle fatigue and speeds up recovery.
Stimulates Immune System
The sudden change in body temperature is believed to stimulate the immune system. When you work up a sweat in an outdoor sauna and step outside to jump in a cold plunge – the sudden temperature change may boost your immune system’s function over time. Making it more robust and responsive.
The practice of alternating between a hot sauna and cold water immersion is an invigorating sensory experience. The shock to the system boosts mental alertness and revitalizes your whole system. It’s a bit like pressing the reset button on your bodily senses and starting afresh. If you need some mental clarity work up a sweat in an outdoor sauna and then hit the cold bath.
Looking for an endorphin hit? Look no further. Cold water plunge and outdoor sauna are your friends. The shocking change in temperature triggers a flood of endorphins to be released in the brain. These are the feel-good hormones. And when they’re released – you feel great! They’re also natural pain and stress relievers. Alternating the hot and cold of sauna and a cold bath fosters a profound sense of relaxation and well-being.
Combining cold plunge and hot sauna may play a role in stimulating a system detox. The sweltering heat of a sauna and the icy temperature of a cold bath promote sweat production and are believed to improve lymphatic circulation. This may facilitate the elimination of toxins from your body via increased sweating and enhanced lymph flow.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
There’s no doubt. Alternating between hot sauna and a cold plunge certainly gets the heart racing. And, this is believed to stimulate the cardiovascular system and potentially improve overall heart health. Good news for individuals with high blood pressure. As blood vessels expand in the heat of a sauna and contract a cold plunge – it can promote more efficient blood flow and enhance the cardiovascular system’s resilience. This may play a role in boosting long-term heart health.
Outdoor Sauna & Cold Plunge Safety Considerations
If you’re planning on enjoying some outdoor sauna and cold plunge there are some basic safety considerations you should bear in mind. This way you’ll get the most from your session and avoid any safety issues, see below.
Hydration is key when using a sauna and cold plunge. Especially for a sauna. Surprisingly, both saunas and cold plunges can lead to significant fluid loss through sweating and increased heart rate. Ensure you’re well-hydrated before, during, and after your session to prevent dehydration. For more see – how much water should you drink in a sauna.
Start Slow & Ease In
If you’re new to outdoor saunas and cold plunges start slow and ease yourself gently in. Begin with short sessions and lower temperatures. Gradually increase the time and temperature as your body becomes accustomed to the changes.
And, only stay in for as long as feels comfortable. A gentle gradual approach reduces the risk of adverse reactions. For more, check out our guide to Best Temperature for Cold Plunge.
Underlying Health Conditions
If you have pre-existing medical conditions, such as cardiovascular issues, respiratory disorders, or skin complaints, you should consult a healthcare professional before using a sauna or cold plunge. Extreme temperature changes can adversely affect certain conditions, and professional guidance is key to staying safe
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Make sure you wear appropriate clothing inside the sauna. Towels and swimwear work well. And, bring some comfortable footwear to wear while moving between the sauna and cold plunge bath. Very cold surfaces can cause discomfort or injury, so protection is essential. For more, check out – what to wear in a sauna.
Always have an emergency plan. If something goes wrong and you need help – make sure someone knows you’re using the sauna and cold plunge. Set up a way to contact them if needed. Keep a phone or other communication device nearby in case of any unexpected issues. This way you can easily call for help.
Cold Plunge Water Temperature
Ensure the cold water temperature is low – but not too low. It’s crucial the water temperature is within a safe range. Extremely cold water can lead to shock and hypothermia. Two nasty conditions you need to avoid. Aim for a water temperature of around 50°F (10°C).