For decades people have used saunas to relax and unwind; however, in recent years, saunas are being touted for the health benefits they offer. Backed by several celebrities like Lady Gaga, Cindy Crawford and Gwyneth Paltrow, infrared saunas are becoming the new wellness trend, promising a long list of health benefits, right from pain relief and improved circulation to detoxification and weight loss, among others.
An infrared sauna is a kind of sauna that makes use of infrared lamps, which use electromagnetic radiation to create heat. Also, called a far-infrared sauna, the sauna uses the “far” infrared waves of the light spectrum to heat your body directly, instead of warming the air around you. This is unlike traditional saunas that heat the air around you that warms your body.
Instead of using conventional heating, infrared saunas make use of infrared panels to generate heat that penetrates the tissue easily and heats up your body. Also, an infrared sauna operates at lower temperatures, (around 120˚F to 140˚F), as compared to a traditional sauna that is usually around 150˚F to 200˚F.
The direct heat of the infrared sauna penetrates the body more deeply compared to warm air, which helps you to experience more intense sweating at a much lower temperature. Also, the heat of the infrared saunas is very gentle and more tolerable, allowing you to remain in the sauna for a longer time while helping to increase the core body temperature by 2-3 degrees unlike a traditional sauna, whose heat can get uncomfortable after a while.
The general appeal of saunas is that they cause reactions similar to moderate exercise such as increased heart rate and sweating. The advantage of an infrared sauna is that it produces the same results at lower temperatures compared to a traditional sauna.
However, the question is, does this translate into any concrete health benefits? What does an infrared sauna do for you? In this article, we will delve into the benefits of infrared saunas and what infrared sauna sessions can do for you.
The use of an infrared sauna can help to increase blood circulation, thereby relieving inflammation, stiffness, soreness and pain in the muscles and joints. The infrared heat penetrates deeply increasing the flexibility and range of motion of the muscles and allowing the muscles to relax, thus relieving tension and pain in the muscle.
Studies reveal that infrared sauna sessions can help to provide pain relief in different types of arthritis and the radiant heat has been found to be effective in treating various musculoskeletal ailments such as muscle spasms, sprains, bursitis, neuralgia, joint stiffness, etc. Regular infrared sauna use can help to reduce aches, pains and stiffness that come along with aging.
According to the AMA Journal, regular infrared sauna usage can help to boost the cardiovascular system in the same way as running or exercise does. The gentle heat of the infrared sauna helps to produce sweat, boost the pumping of the blood and burns calories. This is known as a passive aerobic workout, as your body gets all the benefits while being relaxed and not being stressed out as it would be when you work out normally.
The body tries to cool itself by increasing sweat production. The heart boosts circulation by working harder to pump the blood, thereby increasing metabolism and in turn, burning more calories. An infrared sauna therapy session of 30 minutes can help to burn around 300 to 800 calories.
The use of infrared sauna helps to increase blood circulation in the body. It also stimulates the sweat glands, helping to release the toxins that have accumulated in your body. For decades, it has been known that sweating can help to eliminate heavy metals and chemicals stored in the body.
Sweating in a sauna can help your body to detoxify by releasing heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel and other toxic materials such as nicotine, alcohol, sulfuric acid and other inorganic and organic compounds.
The superficial pockets of fat trapped in the skin are known as cellulite, which causes the “orange-peel effect” or the uneven dimpling of the skin. Typically, cellulite is found in the abdomen, thigh and buttocks area. It is a common misconception that cellulite is caused due to obesity. And, weight loss does not reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Infrared sauna heat penetrates 3x deeper compared to traditional saunas, thus, it is more effective in reducing cellulite. Slowing of body metabolic rate causes toxins to be stored in the fat cells. The use of infrared sauna therapy helps to increase the heart rate and blood circulation, which reduces the accumulation of liquids and toxins in the fat cells, in turn, helping to reduce cellulite.
It has been discovered by the University of British Columbia that infrared sauna therapy can help to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and chronic pain and also can have therapeutic effects on patients with CHD (chronic congestive heart disease). A study that was published in the Japanese Circulation Society Journal revealed that sauna therapy can help to reduce heart arrhythmias and chronic heart failure in people suffering from cardiovascular disease.
An infrared sauna therapy session can help you to feel completely relaxed, renewed and rejuvenated after a long tiring day. Studies show that infrared sauna therapy affects the autonomic nervous system, by putting you in a parasympathetic state, allowing your body to heal and rejuvenate itself.
A few minutes of infrared sauna therapy can cause profuse sweating, which helps to eliminate the dead skin cells and impurities that are deeply embedded in the skin, leaving you skin clean and glowing. The increased blood circulation helps to draw the natural nutrients of the skin to the surface, resulting in a natural, glowing complexion.
Many people have reported that regular infrared sauna sessions have helped to improve their color, tone, texture and elasticity of the skin. The increased blood circulation also helps to improve skin conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis and also aids quicker healing of wounds with reduced scarring.
The infrared wavelengths from the infrared sauna penetrate into the body deeply, inducing an artificial fever by raising the core body temperature. Typically, a fever is a mechanism by which the body strengthens and accelerates the immune response in case of an infection. Thus, infrared sauna therapy can help to enhance the immune system and when combined with the improved removal of wastes and toxins because of intense sweating, it helps to increase the body’s resistance to disease and improves overall health.
So, now that you have learned all that infrared sauna can do for you, it may be time for you to give this relaxing and rejuvenating therapy a try!