What Exactly Is An Infrared Sauna & What are its Health Benefits?
The health benefits of a sauna are well known. Not only do you come out feeling more relaxed and rested, but your sore muscles also benefit from the time spent in a sauna. Saunas are known to improve a person's overall health and makes one feel totally rejuvenated. However, there are many people who are unable to reap the benefits of saunas due to the high temperatures. If this is the case with you, then the emergence of infrared saunas would be a welcome news for you. An infrared sauna offers all the same benefits as a normal sauna, except without the extreme temperature and heat. Let's take a look at the health benefits of infrared saunas.
What Exactly Is An Infrared Sauna?
Everyone is well-versed with traditional saunas. The steam, the high temperature, the entire experience relieves sore muscles and the person leaves the room entirely rejuvenated and relaxed. However, not many have heard about infrared saunas, which are also fast becoming popular around the world.
An infrared sauna does not heat up the air in the room or around you. Rather than doing this, these saunas make use of infrared lamps, which use electromagnetic radiation, to warm up the body directly. Instead of conventional heat, these infrared saunas use infrared panels for generating the heat. This electromagnetic radiation is easily able to penetrate through the human tissue and heats up your body before it heats up the air.
Another difference between an infrared sauna and a traditional sauna is that infrared saunas are able to operate at a much lower temperature. The temperature these saunas operate at is generally between 110oF to 140oF. A traditional sauna, on the other hand, operates at temperatures between 150oF to 180oF, a high temperature that is often unbearable for some people.
Manufacturers of infrared saunas claim that when a person uses these saunas, about 80 percent of the heat generated directly enters the body and heats it up, while only 20 percent of the heat is actually used to heat up the air in the room.
Infrared saunas have gathered many supporters since they have been introduced. According to these supporters, the heat is able to penetrate the body more deeply as compared to the warmed air used in traditional saunas. They claim that this deeper penetration of heat allows them to experience intense sweating, but at a lower temperature. The environment is also more tolerable, which allows a person to stay longer inside the sauna, increasing the core body temperature by nearly three degrees.
Health Benefits of an Infrared Sauna
There are many benefits associated with infrared saunas. Some of these include:
- Improved sleep
- Weight loss
- Relief from joint pain, even in conditions such as arthritis
- Relief from sore muscles
- Improvement in blood circulation
- Tighter and clear skin
- Helps people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome
- Increased metabolism
- Boosts the immune system
- Good for heart health
- Helps diabetics
- Reduces the appearance of cellulite
While there are many studies that support the benefits of traditional saunas, there are not many studies and research that specifically look at infrared saunas. Some studies that have been looked at infrared saunas include:
- A study done by the Graduate School of Medicine at the Kagoshima University, Japan, found that people having chronic fatigue syndrome benefited substantially from using infrared saunas when added to the overall treatment plan. However, this was a small study, done only on 10 people.
- Another small study done by the University of Jyväskylä in Finland found that infrared saunas provided significant relief from muscle soreness and also increased the recovery from strength training activities. This study was also conducted on 10 people.
- A study done by the Bastyr University in California found that infrared saunas help lower blood pressure in chronic hypertension patients.
Nevertheless, there is still a lack of solid evidence and in-depth studies that specifically look at the benefits of infrared saunas. At the same time, no negative effects have been reported either, except for the regular cautions to be followed at any sauna experience.
Before you try out an infrared sauna, you should be aware of certain things, such as:
- If you are feeling unwell or have a fever, you should avoid using an infrared sauna until you feel better.
- If you have been drinking alcohol, you should not be using an infrared sauna.
- You will sweat a lot while using an infrared sauna. This may make some people feel lightheaded, especially when you stand up. To avoid this, get up slowly and once you leave the sauna, you should sit down for some time.
- You should drink water immediately after exiting the sauna to avoid dehydration.
- You should allow your body to cool down before indulging in any other activity.
- In some rare cases, people may experience a heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
If you suffer from any health problems such as heart problems or high blood pressure, you should ask your doctor before using an infrared sauna.