How to Add Sauna to Workouts on Apple Watch
Ever wished your Apple Watch had a Sauna setting for workouts? Me too, so I found a way to add one. And yea, Apple says we shouldn’t use Apple Watch in the sauna, but I am interested in observing my heart rate and associated stats from sauna sessions, so I am doing it anyway.
Something I quickly noticed after getting an Apple Watch is that my heart rate and heart rate recovery data was becoming skewed by the fact that I often go into the sauna immediately after finishing a workout. But the Apple Watch does not know I’m in the sauna (why don’t these things have temperature sensors yet?), and there is no workout setting for sauna, so Apple Watch and Health app would observe that my heart rate either stays elevated or raises after finishing my standard workout, thereby skewing the heart rate recovery and other related data.
A simple solution to this is to create a new custom workout on your Apple Watch, called Sauna, and then activate that when you enter into the sauna. And as a bonus, you get a nice little timer and heart rate monitor while sitting in the sauna.*
How to Add “Sauna” to Workouts on Apple Watch
- On Apple Watch, open the Workout app
- Scroll all the way down to the bottom to “Add Workout”
- Choose “Other” from the list
- Tap on “Add” and choose “Work”, and use Time as the goal
- Name the workout “Sauna” and choose to add the workout
- Now when you enter the sauna with Apple Watch, go to Workouts > Sauna, this will record your heart rate while in the sauna
- Remember to stop the sauna workout after you leave the sauna
This particular solution resolved the issue where heart rate data was becoming skewed by my time in sauna after my workout, where the Apple Watch assumed my heart rate would become elevated again after a workout (which it does, but because I’m roasting in a sauna!) and made some of the heart rate data off.
My heart rate gets up to 135bpm while sitting in a very hot sauna (180°+) for 25 minutes or longer, so it’s nice to see this data be captured by the Apple Watch, and not to have it mess up my Apple Watch heart and cardiovascular data.
Similarly, cold plunging and ice baths send my heart rate up to the moon for the first minute or so, but after a few it settles a bit, and this also seems to make heart data askew on Apple Watch and Health app. Come on Apple, it’s 2024, don’t you listen to podcasts? Every active person is doing heat and cold exposure! (Semi-tongue in cheek here, obviously).
BTW Apple, if you’re ever reading this, this is an obvious feature idea; for the next generation of Apple Watch, how about adding a body temperature sensor that works for everyone (not just tracking women’s hormonal cycles) and an ambient temperature sensor for those of us who engage in sauna, hot tub, bathtub, hot shower, cold shower, cold plunge, ice bath, polar plunge, river swimming, etc, since we all know extreme temperatures have benefits to both exercise capability, recovery, and health in general?
And to be completely clear; you shouldn’t do any of this. Apple lists sauna as one of the things that should be avoided while wearing Apple Watch. They also list bathing with soap while wearing Apple Watch as something to avoid. I do both, based on stories from friends about how durable the newer models are. We’ll find out, if my Apple Watch fails from me doing any of these activities, I’ll mention it.
* You’re probably thinking “but sauna isn’t a workout, why are you putting it in Workouts”, which is a reasonable question, however heart rate can rise considerably in a sauna, and there’s plenty of evidence that sauna has a wide variety of many tremendous health benefits and cardiovascular benefits, so it’s kind of like a little mini-workout anyway, right? Share your thoughts below, if you have any on this subject!