Hot Cold heart rate variability pilot study

Heart rate variability reporting log

The Sauna Research Institute is initiating a Hot Cold heart rate variability pilot study. As of July 28, 2021, there are still a few openings for volunteers to participate.


  1. You sauna typically sauna 2-3 times a week.
  2. You enjoy at least 2-3 rounds during each sauna session.
  3. You have access to and use a:
    • Decent sauna (authentic vs. light bulbs or toaster oven).
    • Cold water element (as part of your sauna routine).
    • Heart rate monitor.

If yes, and you would like to charting a few numbers for a few weeks, please respond to this article and we will get back with you.

The intent of this pilot study is for us to be able to lay a foundation regarding heart rate variability with regular sauna use. Phase two of the study will involve a larger population, biomarkers, and a control and study group. The follow up study will be under cooperation and administration with a large institution.

As we know, heart rate variability may be one of the leading factors as to the proven cardiovascular health benefits of sauna. Being able to better understand the cardiovascular benefits of hot / cold therapy will give us an opportunity to potentially help people live happier, healthier lives by helping them introduce sauna practice into their lives.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Kevin Metz

    I have a wood burning sauna and an outdoor shower. I can’t say the water gets particularly cold during the hot months in Kentucky, but it cools me down nonetheless. Happy to participate if there’s room!

  2. Charlie O

    I have an awesome electric sauna that gets to 195 and a cold tub. I’d be happy to participate if there’s room left.

  3. Robert

    I have a hand built Sauna ( Finlandia heater) that heats to > 200F, and full shower with cold water, as well as a HR monitor. Would also be happy to participate in study

  4. Greg H

    I have a home sauna and use 3-4 times/week, with cold showers between two 15-minute rounds. Only potential issue is that I will be out of town and unable to use it consistently until mid-September. If that works, I would be happy to participate.

  5. Gordon Chamberlain

    Be happy to partake I have a wood stove sauna out door shower and cold water tub for ice submersion. I sauna 4 to 5 times a week 15 min rounds with a 5 min ice tub I do 4 rounds per session.

  6. Tobias

    Happy to participate as we have a wood burning sauna, cold plunge tub and cold shower. Don’t have a heart rate monitor. I understand that over-the-counter HRM are not particularly accurate – if you can recommend one that is suitably accurate for a scientific experiement and not too expensive that would be helpful.

  7. Jodi Hruby

    I have a Finnish sauna, usually do 3 15minute sessions. Typically don’t use in summer. To cool off, just stand outside, but have a hose I can use before it freezes outside. No heart rate monitor, but know how to take a pulse. Would like to be considered for study

  8. Travis

    I built a giant brass fish sauna! I would love to participate. I have been taking a sauna at least twice a week! My cold plunge is a canoe filled with cold water.

  9. Lisa Steinmann

    Urban resident (Twin Cities); backyard sauna with electric stove (190/87); I enjoy sauna bathing 2–3 times a week in all seasons. I have a small cold plunge pool for summer, part of a routine with 3 rounds in the sauna.

  10. David Stobaugh

    I’ll participate. In Wisconsin, barrel wood burning sauna. Cold shower. Meet the frequency criteria.

  11. Walker

    How do you propose to get accurate HR data in the hot room? HRM’s are spec’d only to 50°c while a sauna can easily be 105°c. Measuring immediately after exiting (within 20s) a sauna with something like an Apple Watch is quite inaccurate. Heart rate declines very quickly and the rate of decline varies considerably by person.

    We did some measurements with sacrificial chest strap HRM’s and found that across 3 people there was a very wide variation between the max HR in the sauna vs immediately after. Person 1 will see a max of 142bpm and 112 immediately after while Person 2 will see 132bpm max and 119 immediately after. Apple watch for both of these indicated 111.

    In cold plunge (lake) the Apple watches proved very slow to respond vs chest straps and the Apple watches never indicated as low of HR as the chest straps.

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