Both exercise and hyperthermic conditioning have been shown in numerous studies to improve body composition through reduced adiposity and improved weight control. Increased lean mass causes increased calorie burning. Muscles burn over 90% of the Calories humans consume. Muscle has special enzymes that enable burning of large amounts of calories in short periods. Both exercise and heat exposure cause heat shock and oxidative stress (generation of O2− and H2O2). Both traditional and active thermal exercise training promote mitochondrial biogenesis which also leads to increased lean body mass.
Hyperthermic conditioning has been shown to triple the synthesis of BDNF, and studies have also shown that BDNF is important for thermogenesis (the ability of cells to burn fat to produce heat) and for controlling appetite and satiety. A study (1) published in 2003 reported the results of two weeks of sauna therapy normal weight and obese patients. The study with normal-weight patients with appetite loss showed that repeated sauna therapy increased plasma ghrelin concentrations and daily caloric intake and improved feeding behavior. In obese patients, the study showed that both body weight (84 kg to 82 kg) and body fat (41% to 37%) significantly decreased. After 2 weeks of sauna therapy without increase of plasma ghrelin concentrations. On the basis of these data, the study authors concluded that sauna therapy may be a promising therapy for patients with lifestyle-related diseases.
(1). Biro S, Masuda A, Kihara T, Tei C., Clinical implications of thermal therapy in lifestyle-related diseases, Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003 Nov;228(10):1245-9.
APL (American Performance Labs) is a research group dedicated to the collection, analysis, and dissemination of published research and articles on the science of hyperthermia and the various applications, technologies and protocols for the use of hyperthermic conditioning.