JUN 23, 2019 11:09 AM PDT

Can Sauna Sessions Replace Exercise?

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

A moderate sauna session after a workout or spa treatment can be quite relaxing. A new study from Germany's Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and Medical Center Berlin (MCB) has demonstrated that a sauna session is also equivalent to a short, moderate workout.

The study was recently published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine and aimed to provide evidence about the widespread assumption that sauna use causes blood pressure declines. In a press release from MLU regarding the study Dr. Sascha Ketelhut, lead author and sport scientist at MCB, stated that "it was thought that the heat dilates the blood vessels and that this lowers the blood pressure." In fact, many saunas feature an advisory to warn those with low blood pressure or cardiovascular disease of the risks involved with their use.

The study used 19 healthy, adult volunteers and consisted of two parts. In the first part of the study, participants spent 25-minutes in a sauna at 93°C (199.4°F) with 13% humidity. Blood pressure and heart rate were measured both during the session and during a 20-minute rest period after the session. In the second part of the study, participants were asked to complete an exercise program on an exercise bike, during which their blood pressure and heart rate were measured.

The results, simply stated, showed that a sauna session is equivalent to a short, moderate workout. Both blood pressure and heart rate increased during the sauna session. Dr. Ketelhut reported, "Comparing the two conditions, the participants' blood pressure and heart rate reached the same levels during the sauna session as they did with a load of about 100 watts during the exercise test."

Although sauna sessions can have positive effects on the cardiovascular system and are physically straining, they will not contribute to weight loss. Ketelhut clarified that "the effect is too low as there is no muscle activity. Although we lose weight in the sauna, but these are just the fluids that we sweat out." She also advised those with low blood pressure to use caution after a sauna session, as their blood pressure may drop significantly afterward.

Sources: MLU, Science Direct

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
MAR 18, 2021
Immunology
COVID Cytokine Storm Chasers Look Inside the Lungs
MAR 18, 2021
COVID Cytokine Storm Chasers Look Inside the Lungs
Immunologists have revealed one of the underlying mechanisms behind COVID’s life-threatening cytokine storms. By s ...
MAR 18, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Gene Therapy Benefits Can Last Decades
MAR 18, 2021
Gene Therapy Benefits Can Last Decades
Genetic diseases arise from inborn errors in gene sequences, and researchers have long sought ways to correct those erro ...
APR 01, 2021
Microbiology
Mapping the Wild Microbiome to Search for Therapeutic Agents
APR 01, 2021
Mapping the Wild Microbiome to Search for Therapeutic Agents
Many people think of bacteria as disgusting germs, but there are plenty of important bacterial species that provide us w ...
APR 02, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A New Neurodevelopmental Disorder is ID'ed
APR 02, 2021
A New Neurodevelopmental Disorder is ID'ed
Researchers have identified a genetic disease that causes neurodevelopmental disorders in some affected kids. The diseas ...
APR 15, 2021
Immunology
COVID Vaccines Protect Breastfeeding Babies Too
APR 15, 2021
COVID Vaccines Protect Breastfeeding Babies Too
Good news for families of newborns: A new study shows that breastfeeding mothers who receive a COVID vaccine share prote ...
APR 15, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Magic Mushroom Therapy and Antidepressants Produce Similar Results
APR 15, 2021
Magic Mushroom Therapy and Antidepressants Produce Similar Results
In recent years, psilocybin (the psychoactive ingredient in 'magic mushrooms') has gained increasing amounts of ...
Loading Comments...