The Calories Burned Sitting in a Steam Sauna for 15 Minutes
Don't expect to burn many calories by sitting in a steam sauna, or by sitting in a dry sauna, or by sitting in general. The notion that sitting in a steam sauna will enable you to burn plenty of calories and, as a result, help you lose weight is a myth. If you want to burn calories, exercise is the answer.
Claims that you can burn from 150 to 500 calories just by sitting in a sauna for 15 minutes are false. In fact, former Navy SEAL Stew Smith at Military.com says that sitting in saunas, or wearing sweat suits or garbage bags to raise your body temperature and make you sweat more, are completely ineffective as weight loss devices. Although a sauna, wet or dry, might make you sweat like crazy, you're only losing water weight which will be replaced as soon as you drink water and eat to rehydrate your body.
Can You Lose 10 pounds in a Sauna?
Fitness Blender says that sitting in a sauna burns more calories that just plain sitting, but not by much. For example, a 185-pound man burns 21 calories when sitting for 15 minutes. The number is multiplied by 1.5 to 2.0 to determine calories burned in a sauna, which yields a total burn of roughly 30 to 40 calories. That's about the same number of calories you'd burn watching television, according to ExRx.net.
- Fitness Blender says that sitting in a sauna burns more calories that just plain sitting, but not by much.
- The number is multiplied by 1.5 to 2.0 to determine calories burned in a sauna, which yields a total burn of roughly 30 to 40 calories.
Steam Sauna Benefits
Even though you won't burn enough calories to enable you to lose weight, both steam and dry saunas are useful in other ways. The Columbia University website, Go Ask Alice, says that sweating in a sauna opens pores, which temporarily cleans the outer layers of the skin, although it doesn't remove toxins, another myth about sweating and saunas. Still, saunas make you warmer, help you relax after a hard day or workout and lower your pulse rate and blood pressure by dilating your blood vessels.
What to Wear Under a Sauna Suit
Sitting in a sauna for 15 or 20 minutes is fine for most people, according to Harvard Health Publications. But saunas can dehydrate you, so drink plenty of water beforehand and especially afterward. If you have certain heart conditions, such as abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure or valve disease, you should avoid saunas unless you receive an okay from your cardiologist. If you sit in a sauna for an extended period of time, you risk heat stroke and the possibility of kidney damage, stroke or heart attack, according to Military.com.
- Sitting in a sauna for 15 or 20 minutes is fine for most people, according to Harvard Health Publications.
- If you have certain heart conditions, such as abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure or valve disease, you should avoid saunas unless you receive an okay from your cardiologist.
Can You Lose 10 pounds in a Sauna?
What to Wear Under a Sauna Suit
Can a Sauna Treatment Make You Lose 5 Pounds?
The Effects of Sitting in the Sauna
Advantages & Disadvantages of a Sauna Suit
Does Wearing a Plastic Bag Help Burn Calories?
Do Infrared Saunas Work to Lose Weight?
Can You Detox the Liver With Lemon and Olive Oil?
Are Thermal Suits Good for Weight Loss?
Can You Lose Weight if You Use a Sauna Suit on a Treadmill?
- Military.com: Weight Loss Myths
- Fitness Blender: Can You Lose Weight in a Sauna?
- ExRx.net: Misconceptions About Exercise and Weight Loss
- Go Ask Alice! Steam Room vs. Sauna
- Harvard Health Publications: Sauna Health Benefits: Are Saunas Healthy or Harmful?
- Beever, R. (2010). Do Far-infrared Saunas Have Cardiovascular Benefits in People with Type 2 Diabetes? Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 34(2), 113–118. doi:10.1016/s1499-2671(10)42007-9
- Beever R. (2009). Far-infrared saunas for treatment of cardiovascular risk factors: summary of published evidence. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 55(7), 691–696. PMID: 19602651
- Crinnion WJ. (2011). Sauna as a valuable clinical tool for cardiovascular, autoimmune, toxicant-induced and other chronic health problems. Environmental Medicine.
- Dean, W. (1981). Effect of sweating. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 246(6), 623–623
- Imamura, M., Biro, S., & Kihara, T. (2002). Repeated thermal therapy improves impaired vascular endothelial function in patients with coronary risk factors. ACC Current Journal Review, 11(2), 32. doi:10.1016/s1062-1458(02)00539-1
- Joy Hussain and Marc Cohen, “Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2018, Article ID 1857413, 30 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1857413
- Kunutsor, S. K., Laukkanen, T., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2017). Sauna bathing reduces the risk of respiratory diseases: a long-term prospective cohort study. European Journal of Epidemiology, 32(12), 1107–1111. doi:10.1007/s10654-017-0311-6
- Laukkanen, J. A., Laukkanen, T., & Kunutsor, S. K. (2018). Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing: A Review of the Evidence. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 93(8), 1111–1121. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.04.008
- Laukkanen, T., Khan, H., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2015). Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 542. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187
- Margaret E. Sears, Kathleen J. Kerr, and Riina I. Bray, “Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review,” Journal of Environmental and Public Health, vol. 2012, Article ID 184745, 10 pages, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/184745.
- Mero, A., Tornberg, J., Mäntykoski, M., & Puurtinen, R. (2015). Effects of far-infrared sauna bathing on recovery from strength and endurance training sessions in men. SpringerPlus, 4, 321. doi:10.1186/s40064-015-1093-5
- Oosterveld, F. G. J., Rasker, J. J., Floors, M., Landkroon, R., van Rennes, B., Zwijnenberg, J., … Koel, G. J. (2008). Infrared sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Clinical Rheumatology, 28(1), 29–34. doi:10.1007/s10067-008-0977-y
- Shui, S., Wang, X., Chiang, J. Y., & Zheng, L. (2015). Far-infrared therapy for cardiovascular, autoimmune, and other chronic health problems: A systematic review. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 240(10), 1257–1265. doi:10.1177/1535370215573391
- Soejima, Y., Munemoto, T., Masuda, A., Uwatoko, Y., Miyata, M., & Tei, C. (2015). Effects of Waon Therapy on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Pilot Study. Internal Medicine, 54(3), 333–338. doi:10.2169/internalmedicine.54.3042
- Stephen J. Genuis, Sanjay Beesoon, Detlef Birkholz, and Rebecca A. Lobo, “Human Excretion of Bisphenol A: Blood, Urine, and Sweat (BUS) Study,” Journal of Environmental and Public Health, vol. 2012, Article ID 185731, 10 pages, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/185731.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.