The reliability of a portable steam sauna pod for the whole-body passive heating of humans

Ashley Willmott, Carl James, Mark Hayes, Neil Maxwell, Justin Roberts, Oliver Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Passive heating is receiving increasing attention within human performance and health contexts. A low-cost, portable steam sauna pod may offer an additional tool for those seeking to manipulate physiological (cardiovascular, thermoregulatory and sudomotor) and perceptual responses for improving sporting or health profiles. This study aimed to 1) report the different levels of heat stress and determine the pods' inter-unit reliability, and 2) quantify the reliability of physiological and perceptual responses to passive heating. In part 1, five pods were assessed for temperature and relative humidity (RH) every 5 min across 70 min of heating for each of the 9 settings. In part 2, twelve males (age: 24 ± 4 years) completed two 60 min trials of passive heating (3 × 20 min at 44 °C/99% RH, separated by 1 week). Heart rate (HR), rectal (T ) and tympanic temperature (T ) were recorded every 5 min, thermal comfort (T ) and sensation (T ) every 10 min, mean arterial pressure (MAP) at each break period and sweat rate (SR) after exiting the pod. In part 1, setting 9 provided the highest temperature (44.3 ± 0.2 °C) and longest time RH remained stable at 99% (51±7 min). Inter-unit reliability data demonstrated agreement between pods for settings 5-9 (intra-class correlation [ICC] >0.9), but not for settings 1-4 (ICC 0.05) were observed for T , T , T or T , however HR (+3 b.min ) and MAP (+4 mmHg) were greater in visit 1 vs. 2 (p < 0.05). Portable steam sauna pods generate reliable heat stress between-units. The highest setting (44 °C/99% RH) also provides reliable but modest adjustments in physiological and perceptual responses. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.]
Original languageEnglish
Article number103743
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Thermal Biology
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2023


  • Hyperthermia
  • Heat therapy
  • Heat adaptation
  • Reliability
  • Passive heating


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