Most websites recommend not to sit in the sauna for over a half hour. Being a daring individual, I decided to push the limits of the sauna and sit for an hour. www.livestrong.com suggests that a “brief” 10–15 minute session in the sauna will cause a person to lose a pint of water, weighing 16 ounces. Of course this is not truly losing body fat, but rather losing water weight. The typical sauna is 160–195 degrees Fahrenheit. That is 90–130 degrees warmer than a typical household, or 105–145 degrees warmer than a college house during winter in Montana. The most glaring side effect of sitting in the sauna for too long is Death, which would be a real bummer.
My goal was to sit in the sauna for one hour (without drinking water) and see how it affected my body. This saunathon was set to take place on a Monday afternoon. That morning, I had consumed roughly 60 ounces of liquid. I wanted to measure the physical and psychological effects of sitting in the sauna for an hour.
Before I got in the sauna, I recorded my weight and resting heart rate. I weighed 181.5 pounds and my heart rate was 75 bpm. To be expected, I felt great as I got in. I spent the first few minutes questioning what I was getting myself into, and hoping that I wouldn’t end up on the front page of the Missoulian for this. As I moved into the 15–25 minute zone, I began to question whether my stubbornness would outcompete my rationality. My heart rate had increased to 114 bpm, a jump of roughly 40 since I had gotten in. A group of physical therapy students joined me in the sauna at 15 minutes, and strongly advised me against staying for an hour. What do they know anyway?
Around the half hour mark I began feeling the effects of dehydration. Headache, extreme thirst, and difficulty breathing were all setting in big time. My heart rate continued to climb, now measuring at 133 bpm. According to my Fitbit I was in the cardio zone, which made me feel that this endeavor was more productive than I had originally planned. Some more conversing with the PT students made time go by a little faster, but the clock was starting to seem broken at times. I would also imagine that my sentences were starting to seem less coherent during my chatter with my new friends.
At the 45 minute mark I finally had to throw in the towel. I was experiencing an extreme headache, and knew if I stayed in any longer that I wouldn’t be able to walk myself out. My heart rate had reached 144 bpm, which was alarmingly high given that I was sitting still. I made my way out of the sauna and down to the scale, where I measured myself at 177.5 pounds. I had lost 4 pounds, or roughly 64 ounces of water. I quickly scurried to my locker and downed my 32 ounce water bottle, which quickly cured all of the symptoms I had been experiencing. I wish I could say this was a good experience for me, but I will definitely never try it again.