Infrared vs Traditional Saunas – Let’s turn up the heat!
Infrared Vs. Traditional Sauna
Traditional saunas and infrared saunas are used for many of the same benefits: to relax, loosen-up stiff joints and tight muscles, detoxification, and pain relief.
What is infrared?
Simply put, infrared is the invisible spectrum of light from the sun. It literally means “below red”. Infra-red. The human eye can’t see below the red spectrum of light. You sense infrared as heat. So infrared is natural, it’s a ray of energy that you can’t see but can feel, as heat.
Interesting note – you know how when you haven’t seen the sun in a while you might start to feel kind of down, well actually it’s the infrared ray that helps boost your mood.
But what’s the difference?
Infrared saunas emit infrared heat which is absorbed directly into the body, unlike traditional saunas which heat the body indirectly via air or steam.
Traditional saunas use heat generated by hot rocks to reach temperatures up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference between a dry sauna and a wet sauna is simply if you poured water on the hot rocks or not, creating steam. A traditional sauna’s high temperature encourages increased perspiration, respiratory advantages, and pain relief.
Infrared saunas use infrared rays that penetrate skin tissue. So instead of grazing the skin, as traditional saunas do, heat from infrared saunas dive deep into the skin tissue, massaging into joints and muscles. This radiant heat can be absorbed by your body by as much as 1.5 inches below the skin. These saunas use a much milder temperature of 120-150 degrees Fahrenheit. However, because the heat of infrared saunas travels much deeper into the body, you get a good sweat at lower temperatures.
10 Benefits for using an infrared sauna
1. Weight Loss. YES! You can lose weight just by laying there! 30 minutes can burn upwards of 600 calories! When you use an infrared sauna, your core body temperature increases and your body works hard to cool it down. You heart rate and metabolic rate increase, allowing you to burn calories while you sit back and relax. Check out this video from the Oprah show
2. Detoxification. Since infrared saunas heat your body from the core, they allow you to sweat out up to 7 times more toxins than traditional saunas
3. Relaxation. Studies have shown that infrared heat therapy helps the body maintain healthy levels of cortisol, the hormone produced by the body as a result of stress, allowing you to relax a little bit easier.
4. Pain Relief. Because infrared heat works by deeply penetrating joints, muscle and tissues, circulation and oxygen flow is increased. This can help with pain relief.
5. Lower Blood Pressure. During a session in an infrared sauna, your heart is working harder to cool your body down, in effect promoting healthy blood flow. It is a safe and effective way to improve heart function and can be beneficial for patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, and people with high cholesterol.
6. Improves Circulation. Heating your muscles with infrared rays causes a similar increase in blood flow to that of exercise.
7. Skin Purification. Studies in infrared therapy have shown improvements in skin complexion, tone, texture, elasticity and overall appearance. Less toxins in the skin lead to healthier, radiant skin.
8. Collagen Building. Infrared heat helps stimulate the production of collagen. Not only is collagen present in the skin but it also surrounds the joints as well. So using an infrared sauna can help those that suffer from arthritis and joint pain.
9. Mood Boosting. While in the infrared sauna your body releases endorphins which makes you feel good. Some people use infrared saunas to help with depression. Also, the fact that you are releasing toxins, chemicals, and heavy metals might also be responsible for making you feel better. Click here for a good article on the subject.
10. Immune Strengthening. If you start feeling a little under the weather, jumping into an infrared sauna is a good idea. Have you ever developed a fever while sick? This is your body’s way of trying to burn up whatever infection you might have. Using an infrared sauna can create the same effect. Also, the sweating, releasing of toxins, and increased blood flow all help to move the sickness out of your body.
Some things to consider
If you are unsure if you should use an infrared sauna, check with your doctor. Especially if you have a medical condition, implants or a pacemaker. Do not us a sauna if you are pregnant.
Always, always drink lots of water during and after using a sauna.
It is up to you how long you want to sit in the sauna. First timers can do 5-20 minutes and go up from there. Listen to your body.