How Long Should You Stay in a Hot Tub
If you’re like most hot tub owners, you love a good, relaxing soak after work, and the spa has quickly replaced the couch as your favorite pre-bedtime hangout spot. When friends are over, you finish off the night with a hot tub session in which you reminisce about your carefree college days and bemoan the fact that it’s almost Monday…again. The point is, you’re making use of your hot tub, and that’s a good thing, right? While there is no harm in making the most of your investment, it’s wise to know how much is too much.
Though spending time in the hot tub has proven health benefits, users should be aware of that there are limits to keeping the experience a safe one. There really are no hard and fast rules for how long you can safely to soak in a hot tub, but there are recommendations that include being aware of certain factors which may raise your risk of danger. Factors vary from person to person, so it’s good to know the warning signs of overheating and other potential problems caused by soaking in a hot body of water too long.
Factors That Affect Hot Tub Soak Times
Hot Tub Temperature
Hot tub temperature can play the biggest role in determining a safe soak duration. Sitting in a tub of water that is a cool 98 degrees is not likely to affect you, as the temperature is right in line with your normal body temp. However, if you raise that temperature by between two and four degrees, you and your body will feel it.
As you may already well know, the body perspires to release heat. However, according to findings published in a CBS 12News article, when external temperatures soar into the triple digits, the perspiration process becomes more difficult and it requires much more water intake. If the body doesn’t get enough water at this point, the heat becomes trapped within the body, thereby raising internal body temperatures. Shortly thereafter, dehydration sets in. Of course, you can avoid this whole experience by keeping a bottle of water with you when you soak.
Ideally, you should keep the temperature between 100 and 102 degrees. If you do, and if you keep a bottle of water handy, it’s okay to soak for a good 15 to 30 minutes, or for as long as you feel comfortable.
Your Overall Health
Your overall health or physical condition is another influential factor in how long you can stay in the hot tub. For instance, pregnant women should never go into a hot tub that’s temperature exceeds 102 degrees, and even then, they should limit their soak time to 10 minutes. People with certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or circulatory problems should discuss hot tub safety with their health care providers before taking a dip. Individuals who take certain medications, such as those that induce drowsiness or anticoagulants, should also consult with their healthcare providers before entering a spa.
If you are a healthy, non-pregnant adult, you should be safe to soak at 102 degrees for as long as you feel comfortable without feeling any adverse effects. However, the same rules don’t apply for healthy children. The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals recommends that kids under 12 keep their soaks at 104 degrees to under five minutes. Between 98 and 104 degrees, longer soaks up to 15 minutes are okay. A helpful safe practice is having kids avoid full body immersion, using higher “jump seats” that keep more of their body out of the water while spending time in the hot tub.
The Level at Which You Sit
Hot tubs have seats at various levels for a reason–to allow you to move around and cool various parts of your body. If you sit at the lowest level for 15 minutes or more, you allow your core body temperature to rise a lot faster than it would if, say, you moved to a seat at which your upper torso was out of the water. The more you move around and vary your seat depth, the longer you can safely sit in the hot tub.
Dangers of Soaking for Too Long
The best way to determine how long is too long to stay in the hot tub is to read the signals your body sends you. Some signs of danger to look for include the following:
Dizziness or Light-Headedness
If you begin to feel dizzy or lightheaded at any point while you are soaking, it may be a warning sign that your body is hotter than you think. Get out and cool down for 15 minutes or so.
Most people don’t recognize the signs of overheating until the condition has progressed to the point of physical illness. However, you can prevent your body from reaching that point by knowing for what signs to look. Some early signs of overheating include the following:
- Tingling sensation in the skin
- Fatigue or weakness
- An increased or decreased heart rate
- Sweating profusely or not sweating at all
If you notice any of these signs, get out of the tub and into a cool, dry area immediately. Drink water and pay attention to your body. If your symptoms progress, call 911.
Nausea and Vomiting
Sometimes intense heat can cause nausea and vomiting that is not related to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. That said, even if you don’t suspect the symptoms are signs of heatstroke, nausea would be another one of the body’s signs indicating you should remove yourself from the spa and drink plenty of cool fluids.
Burns on the Skin
If your skin begins to redden or burn in anyway, it could just be a sign that you have sensitive skin, but it’s also a sign that you should get out of the hot tub. Though it may be nothing more than a heat rash, you should take it as a sign that your body needs a break from the heat.
Decrease in Blood Pressure
Unless you keep a blood pressure monitor on you at all times, it may be difficult to know if you are experiencing a dip in blood pressure. However, just like when it begins to overheat, your body will send out warning signals when your blood pressure starts to dive. In fact, many of the symptoms are the same as those associated with overheating:
- Blurred vision
- Inability to concentrate
Warning signs of extreme hypotension include confusion, rapid, shallow breathing, and weak or rapid pulse. If you notice any signs of decreased blood pressure, extreme or not, get out of the hot tub immediately.
So, How Long Should You Soak?
The information is great for most “if-then” situations, but what about if you’re a full grown, healthy adult who can soak for 30 minutes at a time without feeling any adverse effects? Can you just keep on soaking until you tire of the spa experience? Pretty much, yes. However, it’s always better to play it safe and to give yourself some rules by which to live.
While we don’t want to put a limit on your fun, we do recommend taking a break from your backyard retreat every 15 to 30 minutes, or an hour on the outside. These guidelines may change based on the outside temperature, your own health on any given day, and other factors, but these numbers provide a good place to start.
Ultimately, how long you should soak all depends on your personal comfort level. If you feel fine, you probably are. However, if you begin to feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, or different in any way, get out of the tub, grab a bottle of water and go back to relaxing on the couch—at least for the time being.
How Often You Can Use a Hot Tub
As we’re all relieved to hear, there are no restrictions placed on the frequency of using a hot tub. Some people look forward to a soak every day of the year. Some even use their spa more than once a day because of the benefits it provides. Personal use depends on what works and fits best for the individual.
Are Hot Tubs Safe?
Hot tubs are perfectly safe and provide a wide range of benefits from pain relief to stress release to quality time with loved ones. As with any recreational product, proper installation, use, and maintenance ensure safety of those enjoying their hydrotherapeutic experience. Certain circumstances warrant limitations, such as pregnancy and having kids around. And if you’re using a public spa rather than a private hot tub, there are factors to be aware of. But overall, as long as recommended precautions are taken, safety risks can be minimized.