Do Saunas Burn Calories?

Just sitting in the hot, steamy sauna is enough for us to start feeling relaxed… but knowing that it could be burning calories at the same time? Well, that’s just amazing!

For a few years now, the idea that the sauna could be used to burn off calories and even lose weight has been floating around online. There are sauna deniers and worshippers who’ve all had their own experiences in the sauna. So, we’ve done our research to tell you once and for all if saunas burn calories and whether you should spend more time there.

So, How Many Calories Do You Burn in A Sauna?

It depends on who you are and who you ask, not to mention the sauna you go to.

Some sites you find will tell you can burn up to 300 calories just by sitting in a sauna for 30 minutes… others estimate as low as 25 calories.

To start with, it will depend on how many calories you burn when you’re just sitting around or relaxing – the base level. The more exercise or energy you do, the more calories you burn off. But it isn’t easy! You’d have to run a mile (really run, not jog) to burn off 100 calories. The idea that you can burn off 300 calories just sitting in a sauna for 30 minutes is a bit unbelievable once you know the facts.

Nonetheless, sitting in a sauna causes your body to work harder and faster to maintain your body temperature – so it will increase the number of calories you burn compared to just sitting in front of the TV.

How to Calculate Calories

The general, most accepted, rule is that sitting in a sauna increases the number of calories you burn by approximately 1.5.

To calculate the number of calories you burn in a sauna, just multiply your usual rate by 1.5. To find your usual rate, this calculator from Just Stand makes it easy to work out using Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) data.

So, if you weigh 150lb and sit for 30 minutes, you’ll usually burn off around 56 calories. Multiply it by 1.5 and you’ll discover that 30 minutes in a sauna will burn off 84 instead.

What Does the Sauna Do to Your Body?

Pleased woman enjoying time in sauna with her husband

A sauna is basically a hot room! Usually between 150°F and 200°F (65°C and 93°C), the dry heat in the room induces sweating – heavy sweating. You can stay in traditional saunas for around 20 minutes before you need to cool off (a cold shower is ideal) and then go back in for another sauna session.

Infrared saunas work by heating your body with infrared, rather than heating the air. This has the same effect on your body and allows you to stay in the sauna for 30 minutes before your cooling off cycle.

In the sauna, your body:

  • Works harder to maintain your temperature by sweating profusely and increasing your metabolism.
  • Pores open, allowing sweat to escape (this is great for acne, as you can find out in this article).
  • Pulse rate increases and blood circulation improves.

This is where those extra calories are burnt. There’s some evidence that sitting in a sauna has the same impact on your body as exercise, except it’s far more therapeutic and can improve your mental health too. Infrared saunas help your body release more endorphins, giving you that relaxed happy state of mind.

Do Saunas Help You Lose Weight?

One thing you’ll notice after a day in the sauna is how much weight you’ve lost! In some cases, you’ll see a significant decrease on the scales – sometimes by a pound or two. But despite this, saunas don’t help you lose weight. They just help you lose water bloating.

In a 30-minute sauna session, you could sweat out 2 liters of water. This is where the weight has gone! You aren’t burning off fat at all. As soon as you rehydrate your system (it’s very important you do for your health), that lost weight will come right back.

How Best To Use A Sauna for Weight Loss

Attractive athletic young people doing press-ups in a gym surrounded by smoke

The best way to use the sauna for weight loss is during recovery. After a long and motivated workout, a short session in the sauna can boost your recovery so that the break between your next workout session doesn’t need to be quite as long. Muscle strength and power increases after a trip to the sauna as increased blood circulation reaches your muscles quicker and helps repair them faster.

The other way that a sauna can help you lose weight is by keeping you relaxed and happy. After an arduous week at work (we all have those, it’s nothing to hide) settling down at the sauna can do you a world of good… and stop your stress eating. Did you know that stress can have a direct impact on your weight too?

Other Health Benefits of Sitting in The Sauna

Sure, you might just be sitting there and doing nothing… but your mind and body are hard at work! Long-term sessions in the sauna can have a huge range of different health benefits. This quick vid covers just 7 of them. As scientists look deeper into the health benefits of saunas, we’re sure this list will grow even longer.

Summary – The Points You Need to Remember

Let’s do a recap.

Do saunas burn calories?

Yes, but not a significant amount. Only 1.5x your usual resting calorie-burning-rate.

Do saunas help you lose weight?

They dehydrate your body and you lose weight by sweating out water. You don’t burn fat and the weight will come back when you rehydrate.

How can I use a sauna to stay healthy or lose weight?

Head to the sauna when you’re stressed or after a workout to speed up muscle recovery and prevent stress eating.

Saunas are a great way to stay healthy and accompany your weight-loss regime… but don’t expect miracle weight-loss and calorie-burning after a simple 30-minute session!

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