A sauna session is just as stressful as moderate exercise

In the long run, regular sauna visits have a similar positive effect as moderate exercise.
Sweating instead of exercising

Sweating instead of exercising

For many people, going to the sauna is the ultimate relaxation. However, it is often underestimated that a visit to a hot sauna requires just as much physical exertion as sports. A sauna session, that is a sporting activity, but without any movement at all. This statement by a sports scientist at the Martin Luther University in Halle Wittenberg sums it up perfectly. Because saunas have a similar conditioning effect on the body and organs in many respects as moderate sport. As a real cardiovascular workout, a stay in the sauna cabin has almost the same effect as a light endurance sport.

Training for the sporty

Sauna bathing is therefore particularly suitable for those who are not keen on sports but still want to do something good for their body in terms of exercise. Similar to sporting activities, the circulation gets going in the sauna and is stimulated as if someone had performed an adequate sporting activity in the same time. There have also long been suggestions that the heat and sweating in the sauna can also have considerable effects on this level.

The body reacts to high temperatures temporarily with metabolic reactions, as they typically also occur after sporting activity. These effects are now no more pure assumption, but could be proven in the meantime also scientifically. One more reason for regular sauna visits.

Organic and Finnish sauna

Fascinatingly, the observed effects are not limited to the 90° sauna, but also apply to stays in the bio sauna or other sauna cabins with lower temperatures. The key component to the pleasing effects is consistency.

At least twice a week in the sauna

So, in order for the sauna to act like moderate exercise, healthy people are recommended to take a sauna bath regularly twice a week. The effect could be enhanced if attention was paid to a sufficient cooling down period after going to the sauna cabin.

Interaction between heat and cold

It seems to be this alternation of heat and cold that gives the blood vessels additional elasticity in the long run. This effect is also otherwise only known from moderate endurance sports. So sport keeps the vessels healthy and elastic, and the same may now be said of the sauna.

Even if blood pressure can reach short-term peaks in the sauna and also afterward when cooling down, in the long term a reduction of blood pressure below the resting level can be expected. This aspect is also analogous to light endurance sports, which can also lower blood pressure levels in the long term.

Can I go to the sauna with high blood pressure?

Even people with high blood pressure can take a sauna, provided they do not overdo it and listen to their own body sensation. In order to avoid blood pressure spikes, an ice-cold chill in the plunge pool should be avoided. Instead, it has proven effective for people with high blood pressure to cool the extremities, i.e. arms and legs, with a water hose after the sauna.

It is also completely normal for the pulse to rise in the sauna before it quickly drops again to a normal level after leaving the sauna cabin. This effect of a temporary increase in pulse can also be observed during moderate exercise.

Physical exertion in the sauna

Only a person had to physically exert himself for this, in the sauna, on the other hand, sitting still is the order of the day. From a cardiological point of view, a regular visit to the sauna achieves the same values as people who do moderate endurance sports.

So, for example, the sporty activity on a bicycle ergometer with a load of up to 100 Watts. It is therefore undoubted that the stay in a dry sauna represents a physical load analogous to a light sporting activity.

As a rule, this increased metabolic activity due to the elevated temperatures in the sauna is tolerated with no complaints whatsoever. However, people with cardiovascular problems should not overdo it so that healthy sweating does not become dangerous.

People with low blood pressure

Patients with low blood pressure also experience the effect of light exercise through the sauna. Therefore, blood pressure may continue to drop for hours or days after the sauna. If necessary, patients with low blood pressure should therefore discuss beforehand with their family doctor or cardiologist whether and to what extent the sauna may be visited.

Losing weight in the sauna

Although saunas are comparable to moderate exercise, they are not suitable for losing weight. This is because the supposed weight loss in the sauna only affects fluids, not body fat. Because in the sauna cabin, unlike in real sporting activity, no muscle activity takes place.


A sauna visit can have a similar conditioning effect on the body as moderate exercise. It gets the circulation going and has positive effects on metabolism and blood vessels. Regular sauna visits can be a substitute for exercise, especially for people who don’t like to exercise. However, people with high blood pressure or low blood pressure should pay attention to how their body feels and consult their doctor if necessary. Although sauna sessions are physically demanding, they are not suitable for weight loss, as they do not require the use of muscles.


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