Aussie professional racing driver, David Reynolds has come up with a smart strategy to fight against the extreme heat inside his Supercar cabin by buying a personal sauna and having it installed at his Melbourne home during the off-season. The 2017 Bathurst winner has been battling with hot temperatures while racing, causing him to reach a point of exhaustion during the Surfers Paradise and Newcastle races.
Reynolds made the decision to purchase the sauna following his struggle with high cabin temperatures during the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 event in October last year while driving his Penrite Ford.
To improve his tolerance to heat, Reynolds has been using the sauna every second night and has noticed significant progress in his ability to withstand high temperatures. His focus is on training his body to adapt to the heat so that he can concentrate on racing, rather than just surviving. The upcoming sprint rounds in Perth and Tasmania won’t pose any major challenges in terms of heat, but Darwin and Townsville, where temperatures consistently exceed 30 degrees and the races are 250km long, will be a different story. Reynolds aims to use the sauna regularly to maintain his heat adaptation, which he believes is crucial to his success as a racer.
More Examples of Professional Athletes using a sauna to improve heat tolerance:
Using a sauna to improve heat tolerance for professional sports is not a new strategy. The Australian Cricket Team incorporate sauna use into their preparation for playing in subcontinent temperature extremes and England’s Rugby Sevens team has turned to the sauna before arriving in Sydney during the middle of the Aussie summer. Socceroos Striker Tomi Juric used a sauna to prepare his body for the gruelling heat during the lead-up to the World Cup qualifier in Honduras a few years ago and many top-level athletes have long been investing in personal saunas for use at home, including some of the world’s fittest humans such as Novak Djokovic.
So, how does time in the sauna actually improve heat tolerance?
Essentially, when we exercise, our core body temperature goes up, which can make us feel tired and exhausted more quickly. However, if we acclimate or acclimatise to heat exposure (either through natural environments or controlled environments like saunas), our bodies undergo physiological adaptations that help us better regulate our body temperature and reduce strain during exercise in hot environments.
Studies have shown that even short-term heat exposure in a sauna can improve thermoregulatory and cardiovascular function, leading to better athletic performance. For example, female athletes who sat in a hot environment wearing a sauna suit for five days experienced improvements in their ability to regulate their body temperature and cardiovascular strain compared to a control group.
Similarly, a study with middle-distance runners who supplemented their endurance training with three weekly sauna sessions found that they had improved heat tolerance and cardiovascular function, as well as better muscle glucose utilisation. These improvements can lead to increased endurance and speed during exercise.
Overall, heat acclimation and acclimatisation can help us adapt to exercise in hot environments, reduce the strain on our bodies, and optimise our performance.
For full details on the relevant studies, you can visit world renowned researcher, Dr Rhonda Patrick’s website, here.
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