Saunas have been a staple in various cultures for centuries, touted for their relaxation benefits and potential health perks. Among the many claims surrounding saunas, one question frequently arises: Does sitting in a sauna actually burn calories? In this blog post, we’ll explore the science behind saunas and their impact on calorie expenditure.

The Sauna Experience

Before delving into the calorie-burning aspect, let’s understand what happens when you step into a sauna. Saunas typically involve exposure to dry heat, often generated by hot rocks or infrared heaters. The high temperature induces sweating, promotes circulation, and creates an environment that many find soothing.

Metabolic Rate and Caloric Expenditure

While the primary purpose of a sauna is not to function as an exercise substitute, some studies suggest that sitting in a sauna may lead to an increase in heart rate, similar to mild to moderate physical activity. The rise in heart rate can be attributed to the body’s effort to regulate its temperature in response to the heat exposure.

However, it’s essential to note that this increase in heart rate is not comparable to the intensity of aerobic exercise. The calorie burn during sauna use is relatively modest and primarily stems from the body’s attempt to cool itself down.

Calorie Burn Estimates

Estimating the exact number of calories burned in a sauna session can be challenging, as individual factors such as age, weight, and overall health play a role. On average, a 20 to 30-minute sauna session may burn around 100 to 150 calories, which is comparable to a brisk walk.

Water Weight vs. Fat Loss

The weight loss experienced in a sauna is primarily attributed to water loss through sweating. As the body sweats to cool down, it sheds water, leading to temporary weight reduction. Unfortunately, this doesn’t equate to significant fat loss. Once rehydrated, the lost water weight is regained.

Health Benefits of Sauna Use

While sauna-induced calorie burn might not be substantial, saunas offer other health benefits. Regular sauna use has been associated with improved cardiovascular health, enhanced circulation, and stress reduction. These factors contribute to an overall sense of well-being, making saunas a valuable addition to a holistic wellness routine.


In conclusion, while saunas do contribute to calorie expenditure, they should not be viewed as a primary method for weight loss. The calorie burn is modest, and any weight lost during a sauna session is likely to be water weight, not fat. Incorporating saunas into a well-rounded fitness and wellness plan, alongside a balanced diet and regular exercise, can offer a range of benefits for both body and mind. So, enjoy the relaxing heat of the sauna, but don’t expect it to be a magic solution for shedding pounds.