Do Saunas Prevent COVID-19?
I work out regularly and the fitness center I go to is very nice and has three rather large saunas; one for men, one for women, and one that is co-ed near an indoor pool. When fitness centers re-opened after the lockdowns in 2020, it was not permissible, at least in Ohio, to use the saunas or steam rooms. That never quite made sense to me. Surely, high heat will kill a virus it would seem to me. And, it turns out I may be right.
Three recent studies (here and here and here)show that heat can deactivate the coronavirus that causes COVID. Deactivation of coronaviruses (any virus for that matter) is a function the intensity of the heat and the duration of heat exposure. And, this study provides recommendations on heat temperature and duration to deactivate viruses.
Viruses are typically deactivated at a temperature of 55° Celsius or 131º Fahrenheit. Here are more specific findings related to the temperature and duration to deactivate viruses. Viruses are deactivated when exposed for:
- 1 minute at temperature of 80º Celsius or 176º Fahrenheit.
- 3 minutes at temperature of 75º Celsius or 160º Fahrenheit.
- 5 minutes at temperature of 65º Celsius or 149º Fahreneit.
- 20 minutes at temperature of 60º Celsius or 140º Fahrenheit.
The sauna I use gets as hot as 190º Fahrenheit assuming the thermometer in the sauna is correct. I am in it typically fo 10 to 15 minutes 4 days a week. Most saunas get to at least 140º Fahrenheit.
So you may want to consider using a sauna as part of COVID prevention protocol. Saunas have plenty of other health benefits as well that we discussed previously.
Guidelines for Sauna for COVID-19 Prevention
Below are safety guidelines to consider in using a sauna to prevent spread of viruses.
- If you have a cold, flu, or COVID symptoms you should sauna alone. With COVID you should home quarantining anyway which would restrict use to a home sauna.
- You should sauna alone if you have a confirmed case of COVID 19 using a personal sauna only. Stay well hydrated and do not stay in the sauna long enough to cause dizziness or lightheadedness.
- If using a public sauna (health club) you may wish to sauna alone as much as possible.
- Temperatures should be monitored with thermometer near the floor of the sauna which is the last area to heat up and where the lowest temperatures are.