What is an infrared sauna and why is it so benedictional?
Infrared light, which are body recognizes as heat, is the invisible part of the sun’s light spectrum. Although we can’t see it, we do feel it in as the warm touches our skin. The far infrared wavelength – which is what I’ll be focusing on in this post, is highly beneficial as it penetrants deep into our skin tissues to induce a detoxifying sweat.
It’s so safe it’s even used to keep babies warm in the NICU, and our bodies actually radiate it naturally.
Traditional wet and dry saunas use heated air to warm the body, which means they typically have to be uncomfortably hot to reach best therapeutic levels. However Infrared saunas penetrate deep into tissues directly, causing the body to sweat at a more comfortable ambient temperature and faster.
10 Infrared Sauna Benefits for Your Health & Well-Being
1. Increases Metabolism
Sauna therapy is sometimes called passive cardio because it raises your heart rate in a way that is similar to exercise, or as this Harvard article puts it, “the high temperatures can drive heart rates to levels often achieved by moderate-intensity physical exercise.” Just a 30 minute session burns about 600 calories.
2. Detoxifies Heavy Metals, BPA, PCB’s and other toxins in the body
Some people say that detoxing is unnecessary because are bodies are perfectly capable of detoxing without help. While I agree that our bodies are amazing and we have powerful innate detox capabilities, the reality is that:
- The average person carries around 700 pollutants in their bodies at any given time. Even babies are affected – a recent study found more than 200 chemicals in newborn cord blood alone.
- Companies are not required to study the long-term health effects of the majority of chemicals they produce, so most don’t. (3)
- An estimated 30-50% of the American population (myself included) has the MTHFR genetic mutation, which may impair detoxification
Expecting our bodies to manage those factors in addition to naturally occurring heavy metals like lead and mercury on a daily basis would be asking a lot when you think about it.
Our detoxification systems need support.
- Sweat is therapeutic. In fact, it’s a major detoxification pathway.
- It requires very little effort on my part. All I need to do is take 20-40 minutes of time to sit and relax and can even do it with a friend or family member.
3. Beautiful Youthful Skin
Far infrared wavelengths increase the production of collagen which makes skin supple and elastin -which makes it elastic, and also improves the delivery of nutrients to the skin via increased blood flow.
4. Optimizes Your True Biological Age
We have two ages: Our chronological age the is the actual time we’ve been alive and then our biological age the rate at which we’re aging on a cellular level.
Most of us have all had the experience of being surprised to find out that someone is far younger than we had imagined — for instance, when an individual we thought was in their late 50s turns out to actually be in their mid-40s,” Dr. Terry Grossman, founder and medical director of the Grossman Wellness Center in Denver, explained for Everyday Health. “And, by the same token, we will occasionally discover that someone is considerably older than we had guessed. The reason for these discrepancies is often because their biological ages are different than their chronological ages.”
5. Stress Reduction & Relaxation
Regular sauna use has significant emotional health benefits for people living with chronic stress.
Unlike short-term stressful experiences – which produce a rise in cortisol and a physical response followed by a reduction in cortisol after the event – chronic stress often causes our bodies stay in “high alert” stage for hours, days and even sometimes months without a reset.
Since our bodies often can’t distinguish life-threatening situations (like running away from tiger) from non-critical situations (like running late to a non-essential appointment), they react to everything just in case. That’s a problem because:
When you repeatedly experience the mobilization or fight-or-flight stress response in your daily life, it can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can shut down your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, raise blood pressure, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, speed up the aging process and leave you vulnerable to many mental and physical health problems.” (16)
Sauna therapy can help by stimulates the release of “feel good” endorphins and neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which is why I feel amazing after a session.
6. Soothes Sore Muscles
This is my husband’s favorite benefit. Soothing infrared heat penetrates into sore muscles and joints, increasing the flow of nutrients (glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, and oxygen) to the area while removing lactic acid and other metabolic byproducts.
7. Helps Cognitive Function
Heat induced stress:
- Creates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which stimulates neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells) and protects existing neurons from damage.
- Significantly increases norepinephrine levels, a hormone that supports focus and attention.
8. Supports Cardiovascular Health
As I mentioned earlier, infrared sauna therapy is sometimes called “passive cardio” because “the high temperatures can drive heart rates to levels often achieved by moderate-intensity physical exercise.”
“The cardiovascular effects of sauna have been well documented in the past. It lowers blood pressure, and there is every reason to believe that its effects are good for blood vessels,” says Dr. Lee of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
9. Supports Immune Function
According to Mark Timmerman, M.D. of the North American Sauna Society, “During a sauna session, white blood cells increase in the bloodstream, suggesting an elevation of the body’s natural defense against illness.” Many other studies have been done to show the overwhelming proof of help to immune function from sauna use.
10. Increases Slow Wave Sleep
According to the American Sleep Association, sauna use increases slow wave sleep, which is commonly referred to as deep sleep.