How Many Calories Do You Burn in a Sauna?

How Many Calories Do You Burn in a Sauna?

Ever wondered, "how many calories are burned in a sauna?" It's a tempting question – imagine lounging in the warmth of a sauna, effortlessly shedding calories! But the answer, like any matter of the body, is nuanced and involves digging deeper into our biology.

The Body Effect: Benefits of Sauna Use

Before we delve into specifics, let's lay down a foundation: What happens when you're in a sauna? What are the benefits? When you step into the heat of the sauna, it prompts a series of physiological responses – increased heart rate, blood vessel dilation, and excessive sweating – all designed to cool the body down. These responses require energy, and this energy expenditure is what leads to calorie burning.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association[1], the total number of calories burned in a sauna was similar to that of moderate exercise. In the study, the participants' heart rates increased by 100% and their metabolic rates - the amount of energy expended by life-sustaining chemical reactions in the body, including calories burned - increased by 20%.

How Many Calories Can You Burn in a Sauna for 30 Minutes?

Another study[2] found that a 30-minute session in a sauna could burn between 300 and 500 calories, depending on current weight, metabolism, the sauna's temperature, and the time spent in it.

But it's important to note, these calories are not primarily coming from fat, but from the body's immediate energy source: carbohydrates. This leads to weight loss primarily from fluid loss through sweating, not fat loss. Once you rehydrate – which you should do immediately after using the sauna – most of this weight is regained.

Is Sauna Good for Weight Loss?

It’s important to stress that effortless calorie-burning claims are historically false marketing. Weight loss is by no means the most important aspect of any wellness routine. Weight is a highly individualized aspect of health, and we will always respect it as such. For those with weight loss goals who want to know if sauna is good for weight loss, saunas can complement a balanced diet and regular exercise routine by promoting relaxation, reducing muscle tension, and aiding post-workout recovery. Additionally, some research suggests that sauna use can improve insulin sensitivity and potentially lead to improved body composition over time[5].

While the calorie-burning benefits of sauna are intriguing, what truly shines about saunas are their comprehensive health benefits. Sauna bathing helps make us more comfortable inhabitants of both our bodies and minds. Regular sauna use has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, reduced risk of hypertension, better sleep, and overall lower mortality[3]. A 2018 study[4] even found that sauna bathing four to seven times per week reduced the risk of stroke by up to 61% compared to a once-a-week sauna session. If you suffer from muscle or joint pain, the heat from sauna can help soothe muscles by reducing inflammation. Regular sauna use can stimulate the immune system, leading to increased production of white blood cells, which can help ward off infections and diseases.

So, while the sauna may not be a magic solution for effortless calorie burning, it's a valuable tool for general wellness and a good partner to a healthy and sustaining lifestyle. As with all wellness practices, the goal should always be to nourish. Listen to your body and hydrate adequately! For further insights on this topic, check out

2 people sitting in the sauna


Citing our sources:

  1. Kauppinen, K. (1989). Sauna, shower, and ice water immersion. Physiological responses to brief exposures to heat, cool, and cold. Part III. Body temperatures. Arctic Medical Research. [PubMed]

  2. Kukkonen-Harjula, K., & Kauppinen, K. (2006). How the sauna affects the endocrine system. Annals of Clinical Research. [PubMed]

  3. Laukkanen, T., Khan, H., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen JA. Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Apr;175(4):542-8. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187. PMID: 25705824.

  4. Laukkanen, T., Khan, H., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2018). Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. Neurology, 90(22), e1937-e1944.
August 17, 2023
By: Sauna House