When most of us think about saunas, one of two things comes to mind: people sweating in a steam-filled room or in a wood-paneled, very hot room. Indeed, traditional saunas are typically extremely hot, with some maintaining dry heat and others dousing the heat source with water, creating steam. In contrast, infrared saunas heat the body without heating the surrounding air. The heaters in infrared saunas emit long, infrared wavelengths that deeply penetrate the skin. Essentially, an infrared sauna conveys all of the benefits of the sun without the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. More importantly, the heat of a far infrared sauna has a body penetration of up to 1-3/4 inches, whereas traditional saunas only penetrate about 1/8 inch of the body. This can result in a number of potential health benefits, five of which are outlined here.
- Weight Loss – When it’s hot, your body works hard to maintain its core temperature by sweating. In other words, you lose weight when you sweat. In an infrared sauna, you can burn up to 600 calories in one 30-minute session.
- Detoxification – Through the air we breathe, the environment in which we live, and the foods we eat, our bodies accumulate and store a lot of chemicals and toxins. Because infrared saunas have such deep penetration, they can help detoxify the body – both at the cellular level and through the skin. This kind of detox helps eliminate such toxins as mercury, lead, alcohol, nicotine, sodium, and cholesterol.
- Cardiovascular Health – Partaking in an infrared sauna causes your peripheral blood vessels to dilate, which in turn makes your heart work harder. This “workout effect” can help lower blood pressure and increase blood flow.
- Pain Relief – Because a far infrared sauna penetrates so deeply into the body, it can make a real difference when it comes to pain relief. Those suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms and other chronic pain conditions often find that pain is alleviated by regular infrared sauna sessions.
- Anti-Aging – While our skin is our largest organ, it can also be our biggest enemy when it comes to aging. Years of sun damage, along with an accumulation of dirt and toxins, can make us look old before our time. The deep heat of infrared saunas induces sweating, which is a natural way to cleanse the skin, and helps blood flow, which brings nutrients to the skin. In addition, far infrared saunas restore the elasticity of ligaments and tissues – including skin tissue – which helps to make us feel and look younger.