Does a Sauna Burn Calories?

Many people enjoy the relaxing heat, but does it actually help you lose weight? The answer may be surprising.


Enjoying time in a sauna has long been touted as a way to burn calories and lose weight. However, it’s important to note that while sitting in a sauna does burn calories, any immediate weight drop you notice from time in the sauna is likely due to water loss. Let’s break it down.

Caloric Considerations

Experts with the Mayo Clinic agree that spending 30 minutes in the sauna can burn calories. Depending on your weight, age, gender and the calories you burn at rest, you can expect to burn around 300 calories per 30 minute session in the sauna.

Safety First

A sauna is a great way to wrap up a workout. If you enjoy the extreme heat of a sauna, this relaxation time can be a reward for hitting the gym. However, it’s crucial that you take steps to keep your body hydrated before, during and after your sauna.

Drink water steadily through your workout. In addition, you may consider taking a plastic container of cold water into the sauna with you. Part of the benefit of a sauna is sweating out toxins, but if you allow yourself to become dehydrated you may suffer a dangerous drop in blood pressure. If you sauna alone, try to let someone know where you are so they can check on you if you’re gone too long.

Benefits of a Post Workout Sauna

As long as you stay hydrated, the extreme heat of the sauna can help you manage muscle pain. Those who struggle with arthritis may also find that their pain level drops after time in the sauna. Finally, time spent in a sauna can be a great way to relax before bed.

Leave Time to Cool Down

The Finnish Sauna Society offers great guidelines on how to get the most out of your time in the sauna. A critical step you must take is to give your body time to cool down.

Drink plenty of water and consider a snack, preferably something with a bit of salt. A warm, soapy shower is a great option to help your body temperature come back to normal.

Take Care of Your Lungs

Not everyone can tolerate the heat of a sauna. If you have asthma or other lung concerns, sauna with a partner and keep the temperature of the sauna under 190 degrees.

Also, be aware of the difference between the sauna and a steam room. Many who enjoy time in the sauna may find a steam room uncomfortable, and those who love steam may have a hard time enjoying a sauna. You can turn a sauna into a steam room by adding water to the rocks. However, if you’re in a public sauna, check with the other users before adding steam to the mix.

Final Thoughts

Many people find time in the sauna to be extremely relaxing. There is something comforting about sitting still, drinking water and sweating freely. Time in the sauna will burn calories, but most weight loss you notice will likely be wiped out when you’re fully hydrated.

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