Nothing beats a soak in your hot tub after a long day of work or a serious exercise routine. From calming your mind to soothing your muscles, the warm water and steam work wonders on the brain and body alike.
However, it is possible to get too much of a good thing–staying in the hot tub too long can pose a range of health risks. For the typical bather, soaks should stay under 30 minutes.
Here we’ll discuss how to gauge your time in the hot tub, and signs that you’ve been in the water too long.
Determining How Long to Stay in the Hot Tub
In general, keep your hot tub sessions no longer than 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Step out every so often to cool down–you can always get back in after a few minutes.
Of course, if you feel unwell in any way, get out of the hot tub, rest comfortably and sip cool water.
When gauging how long to stay in the hot tub, consider the following factors:
- Water temperature: It should never be hotter than 104℉, and certain conditions call for cooler temps.
- Alertness: How wide awake are you? Have you had any drug or alcohol substance that might inhibit your alertness?
- Health: Do you have an illness or condition that increases vulnerability to heat? Pregnancy and heart concerns are reasons to limit soak time and keep water temperatures on the lower side.
- Outdoor temperatures: Hot/cold outdoor temps can impact how your body regulates core temperature. Balance this with how submersed you are as well – keeping your top half above water in colder weather can help you stay cool.
- Body size: Children, and even small adults, overheat more quickly than larger people. Be mindful of these bathers and adjust the water temperature if need be.
- Water condition: If you are concerned that the water might irritate your skin due to chemicals, limit your soak to a few minutes and always watch for signs of irritation.
Let’s look at some of these a little closer.
The Risks of Staying in a Hot Tub Too Long
Hot tub water is often hotter than healthy human body temperature. Being in it for more than a few minutes can raise your core body temperature to an unhealthy level. For some this is simply uncomfortable (initially, at least). For others it is dangerous.
Raising your body’s temperature even a few degrees can quickly make you feel lightheaded, dizzy or nauseous. While these symptoms are not dangerous themselves, they can precede a fainting spell. Fainting in a hot tub is dangerous, and could cause drowning.
Be very mindful of a hot tub’s water temperature during pregnancy – it should be no more than 102℉ at the absolute most. It is also important to try to keep soaks under 15 minutes in length.
The bodies of pregnant women may be more sensitive to high temperatures, and a mother’s high core body temperature can harm a developing fetus. Pregnancy can also make one more prone to lightheadedness and dizziness.
For more information, check out our post on using a hot tub while pregnant.
High temperatures can put stress on the heart. Typically, the body cools itself by sweating, but that doesn’t work well in a hot tub.
The resulting blood vessel dilation and pulse increase of hot tub temps can be dangerous for people with heart conditions. The risk for low/high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, inadequate blood flow and heart attack all raise.
If you have a heart condition, limit your soaks to 10 minutes and stay well-hydrated. You can also regulate the water’s temperature to be closer to normal body temperature.
Alcohol and certain drugs can cause sleepiness, which is a risk in the hot tub. If you fall asleep, especially if you’re alone, you greatly increase your chances of drowning.
Something else to consider is the effect of specific drugs, especially when it comes to your heart. Check in with your doctor for prescription drugs before using the hot tub.
If you’ve had an alcoholic drink or any kind of drug, stay well hydrated, and ask someone to enjoy the hot tub with you to ensure you stay alert.
Children’s bodies are small, and heat up much more quickly than adult bodies. Many authorities on the matter say that children under the age of five should not be allowed to go in a hot tub.
Kids should never use a hot tub alone, as they should never be unsupervised in any body of water.
If a child is going to use the hot tub, keep the temperature under 100℉ and make certain everyone has plenty of cool water to drink .
It’s a different kind of concern, but the sanitation and chemical makeup of the water can impact how healthy it is for bathers. Bacteria may lead to illness, and imbalanced chemicals might hurt your skin.
While you should never go in a hot tub that hasn’t been cleaned and treated, be aware that even well-maintained water can cause trouble for certain bathers.
If you have highly sensitive skin or react to typical pool chemicals, limit your soaks to a few minutes, at least initially. Watch for signs of rash, itching or burning before returning to the tub.
No matter what, trust how you feel. Even if you have none of the risk factors for becoming overheated, pay attention to how you feel in a hot tub, and err on the side of caution. You can always go back for another dip later!