Why do Sauna Training in winter?
As an endurance athlete all you should ever care about is your……mitochondria.
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a pro athlete; the proper care and feeding of your mitochondria is crucial. 40% of the space in cardiac tissue is taken up by mitochondria, 13 -18% in skeletal muscle of trained athletes. These ancient bacteria are essential to producing energy for life and for performance and put bluntly the more magnificent your mitochondria the more magnificent your performance.
The mitochondria are key to aerobic capacity, the larger your aerobic capacity, the larger your potential energy production for propelling the bicycle. Hours spent training are basically there to cause a stress and for your cells to respond to the stress. A long distance de will stress and develop the mitochondria in the cell, improving function and number of mitochondria.
Acclimating yourself to heat independent of aerobic physical activity through sauna use induces adaptations that reduce the later strain of your primary aerobic activity. Exposure to extreme temperatures also has a beneficial effect on mitochondrial functioning, the minute powerhouses in your cells that provide your body with the energy required to function. When we are undergoing heat therapy in a sweat lodge or sauna, the energetic needs of our mitochondria go up and they respond by using oxygen in the blood more efficiently.
This process is called oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). In one study, repeated exposure to heat stress for 6 days increased mitochondrial function by 28%, among other advantages.4
Heat therapy is usually 15 – 30 minutes of exposure to temperatures ranging from 40 – 77 °C (the latter being quite extreme).
If Heat therapy boosts the function of mitochondria, then the opposite should be considered as well, Cold Therapy. There is evidence that cold therapy improves mitochondrial health through a process known as “mitochondrial biogenesis,” or in other words, by producing more of them.