Those of us who have spent time in a sauna have probably wondered what the best way is to track the time spent and calories burned during a typical sauna session. If you own an Apple Watch rest assured you have several options to choose from.
Your Apple Watch does have the ability to track the time of your sauna session by default but it only track time and heart rate and not temperature, humidity, and calories burned. For more powerful tracking features, you can pair your Apple Watch with HotLog, Illume Health, or ThermoWatch
Read on if you’d like to know the details of those options so you can decide which works best for you! (We’ll even go over a few of the health benefits from regular sauna trips).
Can you log time in the sauna on an Apple Watch?
Yes, you can log the amount of time you spend in the sauna on your Apple Watch. Simply go to the Apple Health app on your Apple Watch and select start a workout when you begin your sauna session. When finished, end your workout, and just like that you’ve just tracked your first sauna session!
This approach does come with a few limitations. Apple Health won’t let you input the sauna temperature, humidity, or type of sauna you used. If you want access to these additional features, the apps discussed below do offer them.
Did you know? Regular sauna sessions can provide a wide variety of health benefits including a reduction in the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, flu, treatment of specific skin conditions, and even mortality. (Laukannen, 2018).
How to add sauna session tracking to an Apple Watch
Here are the simplest options to add sauna tracking to your Apple Watch:
- Using the built in Apple Health function
- Ilume Health
Option 1: Apple Health
Using the built in Apple Health function on your Apple Watch to track your sauna sessions can be done by following these simple steps:
- Open the Apple Health app on your Apple Watch
- Start a new workout
- When finished, close the app and your sauna session is saved automatically
Apple Health saves data such as time spent in the sauna and average heart rate during your sauna session.
The only drawback to using this method is it does not account for the temperature or humidity in your sauna.
Option 2: HotLog App
The HotLog App is probably the easiest third party app to use on our list.
Once installed and started HotLog offers the following features:
- Automatic tracking of time spent in the sauna
- Ability to add sauna type (Sauna, Steam, Infrared, Other)
- Input temperature (in both Celsius and Fahrenheit) and humidity of your sauna
- Add notes to your sauna session for later review
Once you become familiar with HotLog and have a few sauna sessions under your belt, the app will be able to give you data on your average temperature per session, average humidity per session, average session duration, and how often you like to use the sauna per week or month.
The HotLog App also integrates with the built in Apple Health feature of your Apple Watch. Once you connect HotLog to Apple Health, you can log your sauna sessions as workouts.
Now you have access to all the workout tracking features that Apple Health provides.
Option 3: Illume Health App
The Ilume Health App also offers a wide variety of features to enhance your sauna tracking experience such as:
- Automatic tracking of time spent in the sauna once the app is opened
- Automatic heart rate tracking
- Ability to add temperature and humidity measurements
- Automatic alerts when your sauna session is completed
- Ability to link to social media apps to share your progress with friends and family
Similar to HotLog, Ilume Health can connect to Apple Health on your Apple Watch allowing you to track your sauna sessions as workouts.
Option 4: ThermoWatch+
ThermoWatch+ has the least amount of features for tracking time spent in the sauna. ThermoWatch+ comes with the following features:
- Ability to track time spent in the sauna
- Temperature and humidity measurements
- Ability to connect to Apple Health and log your sauna session as a workout.
ThermoWatch+ is a useful app for those who want to track the amount of time spent in the sauna at a certain temperature, but does lack some of the features present in HotLog or Ilume Health.
Which option is the best to track calories during your sauna session?
One of the most popular phrases we hear about burning calories is “the more you sweat, the more you burn.”
It is only natural for us to assume that since we sweat a great deal in the sauna, we must burn a large number of calories during each session. However, most recent medical research points to average heart rate as the best indicator to use while calculating calories. (Blackburn, 2015).
With this in mind, the best option for calculating calories burned while in the sauna is likely built-in Apple Health function for two main reasons:
- Automatic tracking of time spent in the sauna
- Tracking of average heart rate during your sauna session
Once you have your average heart rate and time spent in the sauna, simply use a heart rate calories burned calculator to get a precise number of calories you burned while in the sauna.
Ultimately the option you choose to go with comes down to which features you find most important. All four will do a good job keeping track of how much time you spend in the sauna, and are simple to set up.
If your goal is to track time spent and calories burned during your sauna session, the Apple Health function is the easiest and most robust way to accomplish this.
Before logging that first sauna workout on your Apple Watch, there is an important question you should ask yourself:
Should you take your Apple Watch with you into the sauna?
Now that we have figured out how to track sauna calories with our Apple Watch, the question becomes whether wearing one in the sauna is a good idea.
In short, the answer is no. Although the watch is water resistant and durable, your Apple Watch will likely experience issues if exposed to the extreme temperature and humidity of a sauna. For a more detailed and thorough explanation please read this article.
If you are interested, I’ve also covered wearing an Oura ring or WHOOP band in the sauna!