The blood pressure and heart rate during sauna bath correspond to cardiac responses during submaximal dynamic exercise

Complement Ther Med. 2019 Jun:44:218-222. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.05.002. Epub 2019 May 2.


Objectives: In the present study, the reaction of blood pressure and heart rate are examined during and after a single acute sauna application.

Design: In 19 healthy adult volunteers (7 women, aged 46.4±10.2 years, BMI 24.4±2 kg /m2), blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were measured during a 25-minute sauna session (93°C, 13 % humidity) and during a subsequent 30-minute rest period. The parameters obtained were compared with the BP and HR responses during submaximal dynamic exercise testing.

Results: The heat exposure resulted in a significant (p<0.01) and progressive increase in systolic and diastolic BP. After the sauna bath, BP decreased and showed significantly (p<0.001) lower values compared to baseline. HR also increased continuously during heat application (p<0.001), resulting in a significant increase (p<0.001) in systolic BP x HR as a measure of myocardial oxygen consumption. After the end of the sauna session, both the BP and the HR decreased steadily (p<0.001).When comparing BP and HR during the sauna session with the reaction during a dynamic exercise test, sauna bathing was equivalent to an exercise load of about 60-100 watts.

Conclusions: Contrary to popular belief, acute sauna use does not lead to a reduction, but to an increase in BP and HR with a consequent increase in myocardial oxygen consumption. The cardiac load during the sauna use corresponds to a moderate physical load of 60-100 watts.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Cardiac responds; Exercise testing; Heart rate; Sauna bathing.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Steam Bath