Feel the Burn: How Many Calories Melt Away in a Sauna?

Feel the Burn: How Many Calories Melt Away in a Sauna?

Posted by Eileen Durfee on 6th Feb 2021

Saunas are amazing. After just a short session inside one, your body feels warm and refreshed and you feel great overall. It's no wonder the Finnish people have sworn by them for centuries. Any visit to a sauna will leave you feeling fantastic and rejuvenated.

Today, many people believe that a visit to a sauna is not just enjoyable for what it is, but that it can help you to burn calories, too. Some even believe that up to 1000 calories can be burned off in a single thirty-minute session.

This sounds too good to be true. Is it? Read on to learn everything you need to know about saunas, their history, and if you're wondering "how many calories does a sauna burn?" you'll find your answer within.

What Is a Sauna?

People who love saunas really love saunas. If you've never tried one, you should. In its most basic form - and all saunas are pretty simple - a sauna is a small room that is heated to a high temperature - usually between 158 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit - for human enjoyment.

Couple in Sauna

Smaller home saunas usually seat two or three people, but larger saunas at gyms or health clubs may have room for fifteen or even more. A permanent sauna structure is usually made of high-quality wood, like cedar. Today, portable sauna tents are also available for people who don't have room in their home for a permanent structure, or who wish to take their sauna with them on the road.

There are three main ways that the high temperatures needed for ultimate benefits are reached in a sauna.


A traditional sauna is heated with wood. An interior or exterior woodburning stove heats rocks that raise the temperature inside the sauna.


Woodburning saunas are still used in many places, but they aren't practical for use in gyms, health clubs, or in some homes. Electric saunas made things easier for people. An electric heater is placed inside the sauna and helps to make the enclosed space warm for users.

Infrared or Near-Infrared

Infrared and near-infrared saunas are the newest kind. Rather than heating the room itself, infrared light waves heat the human body without actually heating the space. This type of sauna is very safe from a fire-safety perspective, and the lights can be hung in a tent or closet with little risk.

How Did Saunas Begin?

Experts believe the early people of Finland began using saunas 10,000 years ago. These ancient saunas were pits covered with animal skins. During the Stone Age, the ground sauna was developed; these saunas were made out of stone with a stove inside for heat.

Much later, the smoke sauna appeared. Piles of rocks heated over a fire for many hours, then created heat for many more hours. Today, the Finnish still use these saunas, in addition to the even more modern types.

How Many Calories Does a Sauna Burn?

There is much debate over the question of how many calories a sauna can burn. Today, more and more people are hopping into saunas to experience their vast benefits, but they are hoping to lose weight, too. Whether you are trying to lose a bunch of weight over a long period, or just want to shed a few pounds to fit into a party dress, you may find yourself disappointed.

The short answer to whether or not you can burn calories in a sauna is yes. The heat in a sauna will raise your body's temperature and will make you sweat. In doing so, your heart rate will increase and your circulation will speed up. While in the sauna, your body will struggle to maintain its natural, homeostatic temperature. This is true during light exercise as well.

These increases will burn a little fat and you will also lose water weight through the perspiration process and, as a result, you will feel less bloated.

However, the bottom line is what you are doing in a sauna is sitting. Your body is burning calories all the time while it performs various organic functions, so your calories are burned even when you are sitting still or sleeping. The heat in a sauna only increases this burn by a tiny bit.

The Formula

A formula to help you determine how many calories time in a sauna burns for you is simple to use. First, figure out how many calories you burn while sitting for the amount of time you plan to be in the sauna. Then, multiply that number by 1.5 or at most, 2.

In one example, an average, 163-pound woman burns 55 calories in thirty minutes while sitting still. If you multiply that number by 1.5, she will burn 82 calories if she is in a sauna for that amount of time.

Furthermore, when you are sitting in a sauna, you may burn some calories, but you are not gaining any muscle. For the most part, you are only losing water weight. So, while a sauna is certainly pleasurable, if you want to shed some pounds, you will be better off actually exercising. Fortunately, saunas have the power to boost weight loss and calories burned when the user combines exercise with the sauna.

Sauna Lights on Treadmill

Exercise in the Sauna

A study shows the exceptional benefits of combining exercise and sauna therapy by comparing the effects of 20 women bicycling under sauna light, and 20 bicycling without it. The women bicycling as infrared light shone on them not only lost fat and weight, but their blood sugar levels improved, and they felt fantastic. These women rode bicycles for only three days a week, in 45-minute sessions, and lost 444% more fat and weight, as well as 8 centimeters off their waistlines.

A large radiant sauna tent enclosure gives you the space to engage in the exercise of your choice, whether it is bicycling, hot yoga, or simple stretches. You can save money on gym memberships by exercising in the sauna, and reap even more benefits with the extra calories burned.

While you may not experience the calorie burn you hope for with just a sauna session alone, implementing your exercise routine into the therapy can help you lose even more fat and weight than if you participated in either activity separately.

What Are the True Benefits of Saunas?

There are so many great benefits of sauna therapy that once you start, you will want to incorporate it into your everyday life.

Saunas are safe as long as you are careful and are vigilant for the signs you should take a break. If you are feeling extreme thirst, dryness in the mouth, dizziness, or headaches, you should cut your session short.

Exercising in Sauna

Otherwise, enjoy the sauna as often and for as long as you like. People who enjoy saunas frequently may experience enhanced circulatory benefits, relaxation, detoxification, joint pain relief, boosted energy, clearer skin, and more.

Take a Sauna

Now that you know much more about saunas than you did before we started, chances are that you want to get started on this wonderful practice right away. You discovered the answer to the question of how many calories does a sauna burn and learned much more in the process. Not only is it beneficial to engage in sauna therapy on its own, but engaging in exercise while under the infrared light can offer even more for your health and weight loss goals.

At Go Healthy Next, we offer near-infrared saunas for every budget and home. Our staff is standing by to answer any questions you may have. Check out our online shop or contact us today. We can't wait to hear from you!