Saunas help you relax and increase feelings of well-being, according to Harvard Health Publications. They cause your heart to beat 30 percent faster and can burn almost as many calories as a 3-mile run.
Extreme temperatures, like those found in a sauna, can raise your metabolism by 20 percent. This can enable you to burn 300 calories in one 30-minute sauna session, according to the book “100 Ways to Supercharge Your Metabolism” by Cynthia Phillips and colleagues. The metabolism-boosting benefit lasts for up to three hours afterward, potentially leading to even more calories burned.
Phillips and her colleagues explain that sweating raises your metabolism as well. Sitting in the sauna for 30 minutes can produce the same amount of sweat as a 6-mile run. In the sauna, you can lose up to 1 pound through sweat alone.
Harvard Health Publications reports that saunas have multiple health benefits including stress reduction and “appear safe for the body,” but advise that you take certain precautions. Alcohol and medications can weaken your ability to sweat, which can make it too difficult for your body to cool itself properly. Avoid these if you’re going into a sauna. Drink two to four glasses of cool water after your sauna visit; avoid the sauna if you are sick. Also, if you do not feel well when you are in the sauna, exit it immediately.
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A certified personal trainer, Christie Morton has been writing health and fitness articles since 2004. Her work has appeared in "Cincinnati City Beat" newspaper, "Employee Services Management Magazine" and numerous online publications on topics including diet, nutrition, fitness and spirituality. Morton holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts from the College of Mount St. Joseph.