How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna?

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna?
 

 

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna to get Benefits?

As a fitness enthusiast, I’m always looking for ways to improve my health and wellness routine. One of my favourite ways to unwind and detox is by taking a sauna session. Sauna sessions have been around for centuries and are a great way to relax and rejuvenate your body. However, with so many different opinions on how long to stay in a sauna, it can be difficult to know how to reap the benefits. In this ultimate guide to sauna sessions, I will explore everything you need to know about how long to stay in a sauna to get benefits.

What is a sauna session?

A sauna session is a type of heat therapy that involves sitting in a room that is heated to a high temperature. Saunas can be dry or wet, and they are typically made of wood. The heat in a sauna causes your body to sweat, which helps to flush out toxins and impurities. Saunas have been used for centuries by many cultures as a way to improve health and wellness.

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna?

What is the Difference between a Wet and Dry Sauna?

The main difference between a wet sauna and a dry sauna is the level of humidity in the air. Wet saunas have a higher humidity level, typically around 100%, while dry saunas have a much lower humidity level, typically around 10-20%.

The higher humidity level in a wet sauna makes the heat feel more intense, as the water vapour in the air helps to conduct heat to the skin. Dry saunas, on the other hand, feel hotter because the air is drier, which allows the body to sweat more easily.

Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between wet and dry saunas:

Feature Wet Sauna Dry Sauna
Humidity level 100% 10-20%
Heat level Feels more intense Feels hotter
Sweating Sweats less Sweats more
Benefits Relieves congestion, improves circulation, detoxifies the body Relieves muscle tension, improves skin health, reduces stress
Risks Can be too hot for some people Can be too dry for some people

Which type of sauna is right for you depends on your individual preferences and needs. If you are looking for a sauna that will help you to relieve congestion or improve your circulation, then a wet sauna may be a good option for you. If you are looking for a sauna that will help you to relieve muscle tension or improve your skin health, then a dry sauna may be a better choice.

Both wet and dry saunas can be beneficial for your health. However, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you spend in the sauna as you get used to it. If you experience any discomfort, such as dizziness or shortness of breath, you should stop using the sauna immediately.

Benefits of sauna sessions

Sauna sessions have many benefits for your body and mind. One of the most significant benefits of sauna sessions is that they can also help to increase circulation, which can improve your overall health. Additionally, sauna sessions are a great way to relax and reduce stress. Saunas have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna?

Factors to consider before a sauna session

Before you start a sauna session, there are a few factors to consider. First, make sure you are hydrated before entering the sauna. Drink plenty of water before your session to avoid dehydration. Second, avoid taking a sauna session if you have any medical conditions that could be aggravated by heat, such as high blood pressure or heart disease. Finally, make sure to shower before and after your sauna session to keep your skin clean and healthy.

How long should you stay in a sauna to get benefits?

How long should I stay in a sauna? The length of time you should stay in a sauna to get the most benefits depends on several factors, including your age, health, and experience with saunas. It’s generally recommended that beginners start with short sessions of 5–10 minutes and gradually work their way up to longer sessions of up to 30 minutes. It’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. If you start to feel dizzy or light-headed, it’s time to get out of the sauna.

Can using a sauna make me run faster?

There is some evidence to suggest that using a sauna can help improve athletic performance. Sauna sessions can help increase blood flow and circulation, which can help improve endurance and speed. Additionally, saunas can help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation, which can improve recovery time after a workout. However, it’s important to note that sauna sessions are not a substitute for regular exercise and should be used in conjunction with a healthy fitness routine.

Can using a sauna help me lose weight?

While sauna sessions can help improve overall health and wellness, they are not a magic solution for weight loss. Saunas can help flush out toxins and impurities, which can lead to temporary weight loss. However, the weight loss is typically due to water weight and will return once you rehydrate. Sauna sessions should be used as a complement to a healthy diet and exercise routine for long-term weight loss results.

Can using a sauna help get rid of cellulite?

There is some evidence that saunas may help to reduce the appearance of cellulite. Cellulite is a condition that affects many people, and it is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, fat distribution, and hormones. Saunas can help to improve circulation and lymphatic drainage, which can help to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Cellulite

Here are some of the ways that saunas may help to reduce cellulite:

  • Increased circulation: Saunas can help to increase circulation, which can help to improve the appearance of cellulite. When circulation is improved, it helps to remove toxins and excess fluids from the body, which can help to reduce the appearance of dimples.
  • Lymphatic drainage: Saunas can also help to improve lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system is responsible for removing toxins and waste products from the body, and when it is not functioning properly, it can contribute to the appearance of cellulite. Saunas can help to improve lymphatic drainage by increasing blood flow and stimulating the lymphatic system.
  • Weight loss: Saunas can also help with long term weight loss, which can also help to reduce the appearance of cellulite. When you lose weight, the fat cells in your body shrink, which can make the dimples less noticeable.

What else can I do to reduce cellulite?

Having a sauna can help to reduce the appearance of cellulite, but they will not make it go away completely. If you are looking for a way to reduce the appearance of cellulite, saunas can be a helpful addition to your overall treatment plan.

Here are some other things you can do to reduce the appearance of cellulite:

  • Exercise: Exercise is one of the best things you can do to reduce cellulite. When you exercise, you burn fat, which can help to reduce the size of the fat cells in your body.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can also help to reduce cellulite. A healthy diet is low in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats. It is also high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Drink plenty of water: Drinking plenty of water is important for overall health, and it can also help to reduce cellulite. Water helps to flush out toxins from the body, which can help to reduce the appearance of dimples.
  • Massage: Massage can help to improve circulation and lymphatic drainage, which can also help to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna?

Which is more effective a sauna or an ice bath?

Saunas and ice baths are both extreme forms of heat and cold therapy that have been shown to have a variety of health benefits. However, they have different effects on the body, and it is difficult to say definitively which one is more effective.

Saunas are typically heated to between 150 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and they can cause the body’s core temperature to rise by several degrees. This can lead to a number of benefits, including:

  • Improved circulation: Saunas can help to increase circulation by dilating blood vessels. This can help to improve blood flow to the heart, brain, and other organs.
  • Reduced inflammation: Saunas can help to reduce inflammation by increasing the production of heat shock proteins. Heat shock proteins are proteins that help the body to protect itself from damage caused by heat.
  • Improved mood: Saunas can help to improve mood by increasing the production of endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that have mood-boosting effects.
  • Weight loss: Saunas can help with long term weight loss goals by increasing the body’s metabolic rate. The metabolic rate is the rate at which the body burns calories.

Ice baths, on the other hand, are typically kept at around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This can cause the body’s core temperature to drop by several degrees. This can lead to a number of benefits, including:

  • Reduced muscle soreness: Ice baths can help to reduce muscle soreness by constricting blood vessels and reducing inflammation.
  • Improved recovery: Ice baths can help to improve recovery from exercise by reducing inflammation and speeding up the repair of damaged tissues.
  • Increased alertness: Ice baths can help to increase alertness by stimulating the nervous system.
  • Pain relief: Ice baths can help to relieve pain by reducing inflammation and numbing the nerves.

Ice bath

 

Which one should I use?

Ultimately, the best way to decide which type of therapy is right for you is to try both and see which one you prefer. If you are looking for a way to improve your circulation and reduce inflammation, then a sauna may be a good option for you. If you are looking for a way to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery, then an ice bath may be a better choice.

It is important to note that both saunas and ice baths can have side effects, so it is important to talk to your doctor before trying either one. Saunas can cause dehydration, dizziness, and fainting. Ice baths can cause hypothermia, frostbite, and heart problems.

If you are considering trying either saunas or ice baths, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you spend in the sauna or ice bath. 

Short-term vs. long-term sauna sessions

Short-term sauna sessions of 5–10 minutes can provide immediate benefits such as relaxation and stress relief. Long-term sauna sessions of up to 30 minutes can provide more significant health benefits, such as improved circulation and detoxification. It’s important to find a balance between short-term and long-term sauna sessions that works for your body and lifestyle.

Sauna session frequency

The frequency of your sauna sessions depends on your personal preferences and health needs. It’s generally recommended to take sauna sessions 2–3 times per week for optimal health benefits. However, if you have any medical conditions, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting a sauna routine.

Sauna safety tips

Saunas can be a safe and enjoyable way to improve your health and wellness, but it’s important to take proper safety precautions. Always make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after your sauna session. Additionally, avoid alcohol and drugs before taking a sauna session, as they can impair your ability to regulate your body temperature. Finally, listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. If you start to feel dizzy or light-headed, it’s time to get out of the sauna.

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna?

What is the rule of 200 in a sauna?

In the world of saunas, the “Rule of 200” refers to a guideline for achieving a comfortable balance between temperature and humidity. It’s particularly relevant for wet saunas, where you can control both factors. Here’s the breakdown:

The rule:

The rule simply states that adding the sauna’s temperature (in Fahrenheit) and its relative humidity percentage should equal 200. So, for example:

  • If the temperature is 180°F, the humidity should be 20%.
  • If the temperature is 150°F, the humidity could be 50%.

The logic:

This rule aims to create a pleasant and safe sauna experience. High temperatures alone can feel harsh and uncomfortable, while high humidity can make it harder to breathe and sweat efficiently. The Rule of 200 tries to find a sweet spot where both factors contribute to a relaxing and invigorating session.

Important points:

  • Not a hard and fast rule: Everyone has different preferences and tolerances. The Rule of 200 is a suggestion, not a definitive guide. Some people may prefer slightly higher or lower combinations for their ideal comfort level.
  • Focus on your body: Ultimately, listen to your body and adjust the temperature and humidity based on how you feel. Don’t push yourself to uncomfortable levels just to stick to the rule.
  • Not for all saunas: This rule specifically applies to wet saunas, where you can control both temperature and humidity through water pouring on hot stones. Dry saunas only have temperature control, so the Rule of 200 doesn’t directly apply.

Overall:

The Rule of 200 can be a useful starting point for creating a comfortable sauna experience in a wet sauna. Remember, prioritize your personal comfort and safety, and adjust the settings to create an environment that feels enjoyable and relaxing for you.

How to enhance your sauna session experience

There are several ways to enhance your sauna session experience. One way is to use essential oils or herbs to create a relaxing and therapeutic atmosphere. Another way is to listen to calming music or practice meditation while in the sauna. Finally, make sure to take a cool shower or dip in a cold pool after your sauna session to close your pores and invigorate your body.

Accessories for a sauna

Common misconceptions 

There are several common misconceptions about sauna sessions that are worth addressing. One misconception is that saunas can help you lose weight. While saunas can help flush out toxins and impurities, they are not a magic solution for weight loss. Another misconception is that sauna sessions can cure illnesses or diseases. While saunas can have many health benefits, they should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment.

FAQs 

Can I take a sauna session if I have high blood pressure?

It’s generally not recommended to take a sauna session if you have high blood pressure. Speak to your doctor before starting a sauna routine.

Can I take a sauna session if I’m pregnant?

It’s generally not recommended to take a sauna session if you’re pregnant. Speak to your doctor before starting a sauna routine.

How often should I take a sauna session?

It’s generally recommended to take sauna sessions 2–3 times per week for optimal health benefits.

How long should I stay in the sauna to lose weight?

While saunas offer some potential benefits for relaxation and well-being, it’s important to be realistic about their role in weight loss. Spending time in a sauna alone is not an effective way to achieve sustainable weight loss.

Here’s what you need to know:

Sauna time for weight loss:

  • General recommendation: Start with 5-10 minutes for beginners and gradually increase to 15-20 minutes at most, with 2-3 sessions per week. Pushing beyond this can lead to dehydration and other health risks.
  • Weight loss claims: Studies suggest a temporary increase in metabolic rate and calorie burning while in the sauna, but the effect is small and short-lived. You might burn 300-500 calories during a 30-minute session, but this is mostly water weight and not actual fat loss.
  • Sustainable approach: For real weight loss, focus on lifestyle changes like a balanced diet and regular exercise. Aim for a calorie deficit through healthy eating and burning more calories than you consume. Exercise, especially strength training, helps build muscle, which further boosts metabolism.

How long should I stay in a dry sauna?

The recommended time to stay in a dry sauna depends on several factors, including:

Your experience level:

  • Beginners: Start with 5-10 minutes and gradually increase to 15-20 minutes at most. Never exceed 20 minutes in one session.
  • Experienced users: You can extend your sessions to 20-30 minutes, but listen to your body and don’t push yourself.

Your overall health:

  • People with certain health conditions like heart problems, high blood pressure, or pregnancy should consult a doctor before using a sauna.
  • If you feel unwell at any point, leave the sauna immediately.

Your comfort level:

  • The most important factor is how you feel. If you start to feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, or uncomfortable, leave the sauna and cool down.

Here are some additional tips for using a dry sauna safely:

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your sauna session.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs before or during your sauna session.
  • Take a cool shower or dip in a cool pool after your sauna session.
  • Don’t use the sauna if you have a fever or an open wound.
  • Don’t use the sauna if you are pregnant.

How long should I stay in the sauna to detox?

Unfortunately, the idea of using a sauna for “detoxing” is based on a misconception. While saunas offer various benefits like relaxation, improved circulation, and potentially pain relief, they don’t actually eliminate toxins from your body. Your body already has highly efficient detoxification systems, primarily your liver and kidneys, that constantly work to remove waste products and toxins.

Here’s what you need to know:

Why saunas aren’t for detox:

  • Sweating doesn’t eliminate toxins: While you do sweat out some water and electrolytes in a sauna, this isn’t the primary way your body eliminates toxins. Sweating is mainly a method of regulating body temperature.
  • Focusing on natural detoxification: Your liver and kidneys are the true detoxification champions, constantly filtering and eliminating waste. Supporting their function through healthy habits like good sleep, hydration, and a balanced diet is far more effective than relying on saunas.

Remember:

  • For overall health and well-being, focus on adopting sustainable lifestyle changes like a balanced diet, regular exercise, and good sleep habits.
  • Saunas can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience, but don’t rely on them for “detoxification.” Trust your body’s natural detoxification systems and support them through healthy choices.

How long should I stay in the sauna after a workout?

After a workout, the recommended maximum time to spend in a dry sauna is 15-20 minutes, with individual factors influencing the ideal duration:

Your experience level:

  • Beginners: Start with 5-10 minutes and gradually increase to 15-20 minutes with each session. Don’t exceed 20 minutes on any occasion.
  • Experienced users: You can potentially extend to 20-30 minutes, but prioritize listening to your body and avoiding discomfort.

Your workout intensity and duration:

  • More intense or longer workouts may warrant a shorter sauna session to avoid overexertion or excessive heating.

Can I bring my phone in a sauna?

While it’s technically possible to bring your phone into a sauna, it is strongly discouraged for several reasons:

Potential damage:

  • Extreme heat: Saunas typically reach temperatures between 150°F and 195°F, exceeding most phones’ recommended operating range (32°F to 95°F). This heat can permanently damage internal components, shorten battery life, and even cause the phone to overheat and potentially explode.
  • Humidity: Even dry saunas have some humidity, and wet saunas are naturally humid. Moisture can seep into the phone, damaging circuits and leading to malfunctions.

Safety concerns:

  • Burns: Touching your hot phone after holding it in a sauna can cause burns.
  • Distraction: Bringing your phone can distract you from the intended benefits of the sauna, which include relaxation, stress reduction, and improved circulation.
  • Etiquette: In some sauna cultures, phone use is considered disrespectful to others seeking a quiet and mindful experience.

Alternatives:

  • Consider leaving your phone in a locker or safe place outside the sauna.
  • If you need music or entertainment, many saunas have built-in sound systems or allow books and magazines.
  • Some saunas offer waterproof pouches specifically designed for protecting phones in the heat. However, use these with caution and ensure they fully enclose the phone to prevent moisture damage.

Is the sauna just as good as cardio?

While both saunas and cardio offer health benefits, they aren’t directly comparable and wouldn’t be considered “just as good” as each other. They work in different ways and target different aspects of your health:

Cardio:

  • Focus: Primarily benefits your cardiovascular system and respiratory system.
  • Mechanism: Increases your heart rate and breathing rate, improving endurance, lung capacity, and overall fitness.
  • Examples: Running, swimming, cycling, dancing, brisk walking.

Sauna:

  • Focus: Offers various benefits, including relaxation, pain relief, improved circulation, and potentially some cardiovascular benefits.
  • Mechanism: Exposes your body to heat, causing increased heart rate, sweating, and vasodilation (widening of blood vessels).
  • Examples: Finnish sauna, steam room, infrared sauna.

Key differences:

  • Type of exercise: Cardio is active exercise, requiring muscle movement and exertion. Saunas are passive, relying on the heat to induce physiological responses.
  • Benefits: Cardio primarily targets cardiovascular and respiratory health, while saunas offer broader benefits, including relaxation, pain relief, and potential cardiovascular improvements.
  • Sustainability: Regular cardio is crucial for long-term health and fitness. Saunas can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but solely relying on them wouldn’t provide the same benefits as consistent cardio.

In conclusion:

  • Neither sauna nor cardio is “just as good” as the other. They differ in their mechanisms and benefits.
  • Cardio is essential for long-term cardiovascular health and fitness.
  • Saunas can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience with some potential health benefits, but shouldn’t replace regular cardio.

Instead of viewing them as competitors, consider incorporating both into your routine for a more well-rounded approach to your health and well-being. 

Do saunas detox lungs?

Unfortunately, the notion of saunas “detoxing” your lungs is a misconception. While saunas offer various benefits like relaxation, improved circulation, and potentially pain relief, they don’t directly eliminate toxins from your lungs or any other organ. Your body already has highly efficient detoxification systems:

The truth about lung detoxification:

  • Your lungs naturally cleanse themselves: Tiny hair-like structures called cilia line your airways and constantly move mucus upwards, trapping dust, allergens, and other harmful particles. This mucus is then swallowed and processed by your digestive system.
  • The liver and kidneys are your true detox champs: These organs are specifically designed to filter and eliminate toxins from your bloodstream. They work tirelessly to break down and remove waste products, including those from your lungs.
  • Sweating doesn’t remove toxins: While you do sweat out some water and electrolytes in a sauna, this isn’t the primary way your body eliminates toxins. Sweating is mainly a method of regulating body temperature.

What about the benefits of saunas?

Saunas can still play a role in lung health, indirectly:

  • Improved circulation: Increased blood flow from the heat can enhance oxygen delivery throughout your body, potentially aiding lung function.
  • Mucus loosening: Steam saunas can help loosen mucus in your airways, making it easier to cough up and clear, especially during respiratory infections.
  • Relaxation: Reducing stress and anxiety can indirectly benefit your overall health, including lung function.

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna?

Remember:

  • Prioritize natural detoxification: Focus on supporting your liver and kidneys through healthy habits like proper hydration, a balanced diet, and enough sleep.
  • Enjoy saunas safely: Follow recommended times and listen to your body. Consult your doctor if you have any health concerns, especially respiratory issues.
  • Focus on sustainable lung health: Regular exercise, good air quality, and avoiding smoking are crucial for healthy lungs.

Conclusion

So how long should you stay in a sauna? Sauna sessions are a great way to improve your health and wellness, but it’s important to take proper safety precautions and listen to your body. The length of time you should stay in a sauna to get the most benefits depends on several factors, and it’s important to find a balance that works for you. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced sauna user, there are many ways to enhance your sauna session experience and reap the many benefits that saunas have to offer.

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase something using my links. I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and love. Thank you for reading!

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