What are the Benefits and Risks of a Sauna?


Saunas have been used for thousands of years and are still popular. Sauna can help people to relax and unwind, and has other health benefits.

The main benefits offered for saunas are relaxation and cardiovascular health. However, a sauna may not be for everyone.

Sauna Facts:

Here are a few key points regarding saunas. More details in the main article.

  • A sauna is a space where people seek to relax in dry heat.
  • It can provide cardiovascular benefits similar to those obtained from exercise.
  • Drinking alcohol before or during a sauna can be dangerous.
  • Anyone with cardiovascular disease or pregnant women should consult a doctor before using the sauna.

What is a sauna?

A sauna is usually a room heated to a temperature of 70 to 100 ° Celsius or 158 to 212 ° Fahrenheit.

Traditional Finnish saunas typically use dry heat with a relative humidity of 10 to 20 percent. In other types of saunas, the humidity is higher. For example, Turkish style saunas have higher humidity levels.

Using a sauna can raise your skin temperature to about 40 ° Celsius or 104 ° Fahrenheit.

As the temperature of the skin rises, sweating also occurs. The heart rate increases as the body tries to maintain a cool head. It is not uncommon to lose about half a liter of sweat during a short sauna session.

Sauna types

There are several types of saunas, depending on how the room is heated.

This includes:

Wood burning: Wood is used to heat the sauna and sauna stones. Wood-fired saunas tend to have low humidity and high temperatures.

Electric heating: like wood-fired saunas, electrically heated saunas have high temperatures and low humidity. An electric heater attached to the floor heats the sauna.

Infrared room: Far infrared saunas (FIRS) are different from wood fired and electrically heated saunas. Special lamps use light waves to heat the human body, not the entire room. The temperature is usually lower than in other saunas, but the person sweats in a similar way. Typically infrared saunas have a temperature of around 60 ° Celsius.

Steam bath: these are different from saunas. Instead of dry heat, the steam room assumes high humidity and damp heat.

Possible health benefits

Regardless of how the sauna heats up or the humidity level, the effects on the body are the same.

When a person sits in a sauna, his pulse quickens and his blood vessels dilate. This increases circulation, similar to exercise, from mild to moderate, depending on the length of time you use the sauna.

The heart rate can increase up to 100-150 beats per minute when using the sauna. It can provide health benefits.

Pain relief

Boosting blood circulation can help reduce muscle soreness, improve joint mobility, and relieve arthritis pain.

Reduced stress levels

Since the heat in the sauna improves blood circulation, it can also promote relaxation. It can make you feel better.

Skin problems

Dry sauna dries the skin during use. Some people with psoriasis may find their symptoms improve with sauna use, but people with atopic dermatitis may find that they get worse.


People with asthma can relieve some of their symptoms by going to the sauna. The sauna helps open the airways, thin phlegm and reduce stress.

Possible health risks

Moderate use of the sauna seems safe for most people. However, a person with cardiovascular disease should first talk to a doctor.

Blood pressure risks

It is not recommended to switch between the warmth of the sauna and the cold water in the pool, as this can increase blood pressure.

Sauna use can also cause a drop in blood pressure, so people with low blood pressure should talk to their doctor to make sure it is safe to use the sauna.

People who have recently had a heart attack should also talk to their doctor to make sure sauna use is safe.

Risk of dehydration

Dehydration can result from fluid loss during perspiration. People with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, may be at a higher risk of dehydration.

Fever can also make some people dizzy and nauseous.