Are calories burned in a sauna?
Unfortunately, there is not much scientific research on this topic. Dr. Oz, Oprah’s (cardiovascular surgeon, guest co-host, made wellness superstar) believes that it burns calories and offers other health benefits. According to Oz, the ‘infrared sauna’ is different from a normal sauna in that it makes the same rays as the sun while filtering out UV radiation. In addition, it heats the body up without heating the external environment as much as a traditional sauna.
Furthermore, Oz claims that the high temperature helps lower blood pressure and increase blood circulation. When your heart pumps faster, you burn calories and your metabolism gets a boost for up to three hours post sauna. Some estimate caloric expenditure at about 300 to 500 calories per 30-minute session.
Sauna cannot and does not take the place of exercise however and generally, pounds lost through sweat come back as soon as you are re-hydrated. In addition, the only muscle you are ‘working’ is your heart, which doesn’t offer skeletal muscle toning benefits. Those who enjoy saunas should do so in moderation and in addition to regular workouts. Saunas can be dangerous and you should use precautions. The Harvard Health Publications website (November 2005) recommends limiting your sauna session to 15 to 20 minutes, cooling down gradually afterward and drinking 2 to 4 glasses of cool water post-sauna session.
- Oprah.com: High-Tech Ways to Extend your Life: Infrared Sauna
- Harvard Health Publications: Sauna Health Benefits: Are Saunas Healthy or Harmful?