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Pros and Cons of a Sauna

Below are the pros and cons of a sauna including its design, costs, health benefits, and tips on how long should you stay inside a sauna.
Home walk in large wooden sauna with open door and towels and view of a large deck with green trees through sliding doors Stopping by the sauna can be a relaxing moment or even a great addition to a workout. However, you don’t necessarily have to go all the way to the gym or the spa to take advantage of a sauna – you can have one in your own home! 

In this guide, we’ll take a look at all of the major advantages and disadvantages of saunas as well as more information on what a sauna is and what goes into having one of your own.

What Is A Sauna? 

Interior of a small wooden home sauna with lighting fixtures and stone wall Before getting into the pros and cons of saunas, let’s take a moment to consider exactly what a sauna is. When you’re considering a sauna in your home, what exactly does that entail?

Generally speaking, a sauna is a small room or enclosed space that, as one of the most recognizable features of a sauna, is temperature-controlled. Typically, this temperature is kept between about 150 degrees and 195 degree Fahrenheit or between 65 degrees and 90 degrees Celsius. 

That being said, not every sauna is the same as the last. The image of a small, wood-paneled room is a classic look but far from your only option when it comes to a sauna.

Not to mention, some saunas opt for different features or different types of heat. For instance, some saunas feature high humidity while others focus more on the heat with a lower level of moisture. 

One common theme among saunas, however, is that they’re designed as a space to relax in. Even if you want it as part of your workout routine, a sauna should be a place to take a deep breath and sit for a moment.

Sauna Benefits

An open shower with ceiling mount rain shower head and a modern home finnish sauna room with neon lights and wood bench enclosed in a glass Relaxing – The first benefit that comes to mind for many with a sauna is one that we’ve already mentioned: it’s meant to be a relaxing experience. 

Reduce stress – A sauna can help you reduce your stress levels physically as well as provide a relaxing environment. Of course, an in-home sauna offers this to an extra degree since you can reap the benefits without leaving the comfort of your home! 

Joint and muscle recovery – After a workout, this relaxation can help you relax your muscles as well. They’re pretty good for your circulation and as you sit in one for a few minutes, you just might start to feel those tight knots start to unravel a bit. 

Socialization – Hanging out with friends and family in the sauna is an excellent way to socialize. For saunas located in public places it can be a great way to meet new people and create friendships.

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Increase home value – On the more economical side, an in-home sauna is a great way to increase your property value as well. While this isn’t an immediate benefit, it’ll definitely pay off down the line as an addition if you decide to sell your home. 

Rid the body of toxins – Saunas promote the release of toxins from the body through sweating. Sweat is made up primarily of water, however it also contains minerals such as mercury, copper, zinc and nickel which can be removed from the body through sweat glands.

Burning calories – Saunas do not burn near as much calories as exercise. However, the elevated temperatures can increase the heart rate and promote sweating. This in turn uses more energy from built-up fat reserves within the body. Some studies have shown a single sauna session can result in burning up to 300 calories.

Sleep better – Many regular sauna users have experienced deeper sleep after nighttime sauna usage. This can promote overall health and well-being.

Enjoyment – For many a trip to the sauna is the perfect way to end a long hectic work day. There are both mental and physical benefits to regular sauna usage which can lead to an elevated sense of relaxation and enjoyment. 

Sauna Disadvantages

A vinyl floored room with wooden framed sauna cube with wood interiors and benches and a shower area with ceiling mounted shower head There are some disadvantages to saunas as well. It’s important to understand these cons before jumping right in. 

Health concerns – First of all, let’s note that there are some health concerns surrounding saunas. However, you can rest a little easier as long as you make sure that you use a sauna as advised and consider your own personal needs. Later on, we’ll take a look at some of the specific concerns about saunas.

Cost – On the more technical side of things, saunas do come with a higher upfront cost and you’ll need to consider the space necessary to add a sauna to your home. We’ll take a closer look at the cost of installing a home sauna shortly. 

Maintenance – Finally, you’ll want to consider that when a sauna is in your home, it’s your responsibility to maintain it. While this isn’t a terribly unfortunate drawback, it could cause some stress if you don’t want another area in your home to clean.

Home Sauna Cost

Modern sauna room with black tile floors wood cabinet and shelves a bench and an ottoman There is a lot of variation in the cost of a home sauna. After all, the final cost is effected by the details of your sauna design. Is it indoor or outdoor? Prefab or built from the ground up? How many people do you want to seat inside? 

To broadly answer all of these questions in one estimate, you can expect to spend somewhere between $3,000 and $6,000 with an average around $4,500. This accounts for the cost of materials, labor, and a prefab sauna. 

As for size, the most common choice is 8 feet by 5 feet, seating about four occupants. This will fall within the range just mentioned. However, you can expect to veer closer to the $6,000 range if you want to seat up to seven people.

If you’re looking for something smaller, though, you can save with a sauna room of four feet by four feet for a more personal-sized unit. Read more about sauna dimensions here. 

Are Saunas Good For You? 

A room with brick wall wood tile floors laundry area and sauna room enclosed in a glass with wood bench interiors and lighting fixtures Saunas offer a lot of health benefits like stress reduction as we mentioned when we were talking about some of the benefits of saunas. On the other hand, there are some warnings that might give you pause. So, at the end of the day, are saunas good for you? 

For one, everyone is different! This means that if you aren’t sure, it’s a great idea to check with your doctor if regular use of a sauna is a good idea. 

In a more broad sense, saunas are typically safe so long as you use them as intended. For instance, don’t stay in a sauna longer than you should, if you start to feel unwell, if you’ve been drinking or feel unwell before getting started. 

To make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible, take the time to cool down slowly once you leave your sauna and make sure to drink a few glasses of water to rehydrate. 

How Long To Stay In A Sauna

Sauna room with a bench hot stones a soft light and a brick accent wall in the corner As we’ve mentioned, a sauna can do a lot of good but you have to use the sauna correctly. Otherwise, you risk more disadvantages than advantages and those guidelines are in place for your health. For instance, you shouldn’t overstay your welcome in a sauna. 

If you do, you’ll probably feel yourself start to feel a bit sick. Since it’s hot and you’re sweating a lot, you don’t want to risk overheating or getting dehydrated. After all, that’s pretty far from a healthy, relaxing experience. 

When it comes to how long that you should stay in your sauna, you should limit your time to a maximum of 15 or 20 minutes. If you start to feel unwell, though, make sure to listen to your body and leave if you get uncomfortable rather than waiting out the maximum time limit. 

Does A Sauna Burn Calories? 

Naturally, sitting in a sauna isn’t going to provide the same results that a professional athlete’s routine would. However, there is a common question about whether saunas burn calories at all. 

That being said, you’re likely to burn more calories sitting in a sauna than you would just sitting outside of it. There are some estimates that a sauna can help you burn up to twice as many calories as you would doing the same level of activity without the environment of a sauna. 

All in all, yes, a sauna is going to burn some extra calories. Yet, it’s still more highly praised in use for workout recovery when it comes to the fitness-related uses for a sauna.

Benefits Of A Sauna After Workout

A sauna room a shower cubicle and a home gym with exercise bike rowing machine and some free weights and natural light is streaming in through two skylight windows Many people hit the sauna at a gym after their workout. However, what does this do other than just give you a minute to rest and relax after working so hard?

For one, it actually helps with muscle recovery which can help reduce how sore you start to feel the day after your workout. This comes back to how well saunas do at improving circulation. Not to mention, this will help you feel ready for your next workout sooner if you have a faster recovery from the previous one.

It’s worth mentioning that the stress relief benefits shouldn’t be written off so quickly either. Stress can have a lot of unpleasant signs that come with it, so it’s a great idea to take some time to relax and step back from time to time.

All in all, taking the time to stop by the sauna after you workout is a great idea that starts to pay off rather quickly. Read about our guide on how to choose home gym colors for more related article.

Do You Use A Sauna Before Or After A Workout?

Interior of stylish sauna with wooden and concrete walls wooden floor and benches with stacks of towels on them We’ve already covered that a sauna is potentially a great addition to your workout. Just like any other part of your workout, however, you have to incorporate it correctly to get the most out of it. So, the next time you’re getting ready to plan your workout, where should you work in a trip to the sauna? 

While a sauna might feel great to warm you up, it isn’t a warmup in and of itself. You can’t use it to replace your usual routine of stretching and simple exercises before jumping into more intensive activities. 

On the other hand, if you take a trip to the sauna after your workout, you can reap the benefits of muscle recovery and reduced soreness in your muscles that we discussed earlier. As a result, you might see more results from putting your time in the sauna at the end of your workout.

Visit our guide hot tub sizes and our comparison to a jacuzzi vs hot tub for more related content.

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