A nice soak in the hot tub can feel great after a long day at work or a good workout. Time in a hot tub can help you relax your body and reduce stress. Spending too much time in the hot tub can have health risks and repercussions. Let’s look at how long can you stay in a hot tub to have a relaxing, feel good, hot tub experience and avoid health risks.
How long can you stay in a hot tub? – Ideal hot tub session time
For the average adult, the ideal amount of time to spend in a hot tub is 15 to 30 minutes. If the air temperature is cold you can enjoy a longer soak. You should still not exceed 45 minutes to an hour. For most people 15 to 30 minutes is the limit and you should not stay in longer without taking a break.
Things to consider before using a hot tub
Using a hot tub feels great but it’s not for everyone. Here are a few hot tub safety things to consider before getting in a hot tub. If you are not sure if you are healthy enough to use a hot tub, consult your family doctor and discuss it with them.
Hot tub temperature
For most people, the ideal hot tub temperature is around body temperature or a little bit warmer. This is a temperature range between 97°F (36°C) to 104°F (40°C). You should not turn the temperature up any warmer than 104°F. At temperatures near or above 104 °F you should limit your time to 15 minutes or less. If you like to spend longer times in your hot tub, keep it set at a lower temperature.
Some people do like a very hot, hot tub. I once went to a natural hot spring in Taiwan that had extremely hot spring fed tubs. They were so hot I couldn’t even get my feet in without feeling like I was burning. Some hot tub users could walk right in and they didn’t seem bothered by it.
Cooler ambient air temperatures allow your body to cool and dissipate the heat from the hot tub. This means you can stay in longer without overheating your body. As a diehard skier, not much feels better than an outdoor hot tub in freezing, snowy conditions.
Personal Health and Age
A healthy adult can sit in a 102°F water temperature hot tub almost forever without any adverse health effects. The same is not true for children or the elderly. According to the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) ” Children who are big enough to be in a hot tub should not use it for more than five minutes at a time, especially at the maximum temperature of 104 degrees. Dropping the spa temperature to 98 °F degrees would allow for longer soaks – but never more than 15 minutes at a time.”
If you are a pregnant woman you should avoid the hot tub. Body temperatures tend to be elevated during pregnancy. Using a hot tub can raise your body temperature even further endangering your child. Use caution and consult a doctor before using a hot tub if you insist on getting in one while pregnant.
If you have a heart condition or have had heart disease in the past you should consult a doctor before using a hot tub.
How deep you sit in the hot tub
The deeper you sit in a hot tub, the more surface area of your body is in contact with the hot tub water. The more skin you have underwater means the less you have exposed to the air for cooling. Sitting in a 104 °F hot tub up to your neck can cause you to overheat much faster than sitting waist deep. If you are feeling too hot, sitting on the edge with only your legs in the water can help you cool down. If you are the hot tub owner, keep a reasonable water level so that people aren’t forced to sit neck deep in the hot tub.
How often can you use a hot tub?
There is no set limit for how often you can use a hot tub. The main thing is not to overuse it each time you use it. Stay in long enough to relax and feel good but not so long that you overheat your body core temperature. Once you get out and cool off, you are okay to get back in again.
What happens to your body while your sitting in a hot tub
As you sit in a hot tub warming up, the small blood vessels in your skin will dilate. This can cause some people to have a red appearance as they warm up. The increased size of your blood vessels causes your heart to work harder to circulate blood. This leads to reduced blood pressure.
If you sit in a hot tub that is above 101F it will cause your body core temperature to rise. Your body regulates its core body temperature between 97.7-101.3 °F. Sitting in water warmer than 101.3 °F will cause it to rise. Your body will still try to regulate itself to cooler temperatures by sweating but it won’t be able to. This will lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and possibly heat stroke.
Things to avoid while hot tubbing
There are some things you should avoid doing while sitting in a hot tub to prevent health risks. Avoiding these can help make sure your hot tub soak is enjoyable and relaxing.
Alcohol and other depressants
Sitting in a hot tub causes low pressure. Drinking alcohol or using any drug that acts as a depressant can increase the drop in blood pressure. I’m just as guilty as the next guy at having a beer in the hot tub after skiing. Don’t overdo it.
Using electronics in or near the tub (that aren’t waterproof)
Electrocution isn’t fun or relaxing. Avoid using electronic devices such as TVs or Laptops that could fall in while being used. If you want to watch TV while in the tub, don’t set it up on the edge of the hot tub.
Health risks of staying in a hot tub too long
Here are some things that can happen to you if you are in a hot tub too long and how to recognize the signs. If you aren’t feeling good, don’t stay in any longer.
Overheating is the most common thing that can happen to you if you sit in a hot tub too long. Here are a few signs that you are overheating.
- Tingling sensations
- Sweating a lot or feeling very hot but not sweating
- Increasing or decreasing heart rate
Nausea and Vommiting
If your body is too warm it can give you feelings of nausea. These can lead to vomiting for some people. If you feel nauseous, get out of the hot tub. Don’t stay in thinking it will go away or wait until you actually need to vomit.
Sitting in the hot tub too long can cause a burning sensation or skin irritation. If the temperature is too hot it can causes burning. For some people, the chemicals used to treat the water can cause burning and irritation as well. If you have feelings of burning or skin irritation it’s time to get out.
Decreased blood pressure
Being exposed to hot water for a long time can cause a drop in blood pressure because of blood vessel dilation. For some people it can be severe. Here are a few signs that you are experiencing a drop in blood pressure.
- Dizziness or confusion
- Blurred vision
- Feeling faint
- Feeling nautious
Your body can’t regulate core temperature while in a very high temperature hot tub. It will still try to do so. This can lead to dehydration from sweating in the hot tub. Drink plenty of water while in a hot tub for extended periods of time. If you suspect you are dehydrated get out and drink water slowly to rehydrate. Here are a few signs you are becoming dehydrated.
- Dizziness or disorientation
- Dark colored urine
- Feeling thirsty
If the hot tub is outdoors, you can get sunburn from too much exposure to the sun. If you are using an outdoor hot tub that is out in a sunny location, put some sunscreen on.
How long should you stay in a hot tub for recovery of sore muscles?
The ideal amount of time to spend in a hot tub after exercising is 10 to 25 minutes. That is enough time to promote blood flow and relaxation in your muscles. See this article from Accel Performance to learn more about hot and cold water therapy.
How long can you stay in a hot tub with high blood pressure?
According to the US National Institute of Health, people with high blood pressure or hypertension can spend 10 minutes in a hot tub. ” Immersion in a hot tub for 10 minutes lowers blood pressure in subjects with treated hypertension, but no more than in normotensive control subjects. Spending 10 minutes in a hot tub should be safe for most treated hypertensive patients. “
Can you die from staying in a hot tub too long?
If you ignore the signs your body is giving you that you are overheated, it can lead to death in severe cases. Dehydration, overheating or heat stroke, and severe low blood pressure can all lead to death. More hot tub injuries and deaths are a result of falling getting in and out of a hot tub than from sitting too long in higher temperature hot tubs.
One other potential cause of hot tub death is exposure to diseases or bacteria living in the hot tub. Legionella bacterium which can lead to Legionnaires’ disease can result in death. It’s not common but it has been found in hot tubs before. Using a hot tub is safe if you don’t stay in too long, use it with health conditions, be careful getting in and out and keep the hot tub clean.
Can you get an STD from a hot tub?
There are no known cases where someone has gotten an STD just from sitting in a hot tub or swimming pool. Having sex in a hot tub can result in STDs just like having sex anywhere else. The chlorine in a hot tub or pool will not kill off any virus or bacteria that could cause you to get an STD. Look here to learn more.
Do hot tub chemicals damage my skin?
Hot tub chemicals such as Chlorine and Bromine can cause skin irritations and rashes. People with sensitive skin can be especially prone to this. Hot tubs with a PH level that is out of balance are more likely to cause skin irritation as well as lung irritation. Warm water can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. An out of balance or dirty hot tub can also lead to a health condition known as Hot Tub Rash which is caused by the germ Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. Click here to learn more about Hot Tub Rash from the CDC. See our article on cleaning mold from hot tubs to learn more about cleaning a hot tub.
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About the author
My name is Doug Ryan. I am a homeowner and love having get togethers and finding the best things to make spending time at home easier and more fun. We spend a lot of time at home so why shouldn’t we have a great time there? I decided to start Great Home Gear as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for all things home living with everyone.