Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Milne, Kevin (Kinesiology)






Sauna bathing improves heart rate variability (HRV), resting blood pressure (BP), fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and body composition in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) and diabetes, and benefits depressed patients. Sauna bathing elicits similar physiological responses to exercise, including increases in core temperature, sweating, heart rate and skin blood flow. Exercise training decreases cardiovascular and metabolic disease morbidity and mortality rates. Despite these benefits, only 50.9% of Windsor-Essex County is moderately physically active. Further, reduced aerobic fitness, BP, FPG, body composition, etc. occur with age. As such, it is of interest to examine whether sauna bathing as a form of passive heating prevents the onset of cardiovascular and metabolic disease by improving health markers in middle aged adults. To examine this question, we recruited 5 healthy, sedentary to moderately active middle-aged participants to undergo sauna bathing 5 times per week for 2 weeks. The sauna intervention consisted of a 15 minute dry sauna exposure at approximately 60░C followed by 30 minutes of covered rest. Resting HR and BP, HRV, body composition, blood lipids (TC, HDL, LDL, TRG), FPG, hematocrit (HCT) and state trait anxiety (STAI) were measured at baseline, following two weeks of normal activity and following two weeks of daily sauna bathing. Tympanic temperature was measured during each sauna exposure and showed a significant increase following the 15 minute sauna bath (p<.001). Resting HR, BP, HRV, body composition, STAI, blood lipids, and FPG were unchanged following two weeks of sauna use (p>.05). HCT increased following two weeks of sauna use (p<.05). These results suggest that daily dry sauna bathing with a concomitant 1.9 ▒ 0.6 ░C tympanic temperature increase does not improve markers of cardiovascular, metabolic and psychological health among generally healthy middle-aged adults.