By Kimberly Fowler
When it comes to recovery you’ll often hear about infrared saunas. Unlike a traditional sauna, infrared saunas don’t heat the air around you. Instead, they use infrared lamps (that use electromagnetic radiation) to warm your body directly. You will also see it referred to as far infrared (FIR).
“These saunas use infrared panels instead of conventional heat to easily penetrate human tissue, heating up your body before heating up the air,” explains Vivian Eisenstadt, MAPT, CPT, MASP.
A More Intense Sweat
An infrared sauna can operate at a lower temperature (usually between 120 ̊F and 140 ̊F) than a traditional sauna, which is typically between 150 ̊F and 180 ̊F. The heat penetrates more deeply than warmed air. This allows you to experience a more intense sweat at a lower temperature. This environment is more tolerable, which allows you to stay in the sauna longer while increasing your core body temperature by two to three degrees.
Here are some of the main benefits of using an infrared sauna.
Infrared saunas allow you to eliminate about seven times more toxins.
Studies show the composition of chemicals found in the sweat during an infrared sauna is quite different from that produced by a steam bath, traditional steam/hot rock sauna, or exercise. The sweat of people using a far infrared sauna will not only contain water but will also contain cholesterol, fat-soluble toxins, heavy metals (such as mercury, aluminum, and arsenic), nicotine, sulfuric acid, ammonia, and other undesirable elements. Normal sweat produced by other methods, including exercise, is mostly water and sodium chloride (salt).
Infrared sauna therapy promotes relaxation by helping to balance your level of cortisol, your body’s primary stress hormone.
Infrared saunas can relieve muscle aches and joint pain by increasing circulation and relaxing your muscles.
The heat generated by an infrared sauna will cause your core temperature to increase, which can also lead to an increased heart rate — the same increase in heart rate that you experience when exercising. When your body must work harder to lower your core temperature or keep up with an increased heart rate, your body will burn more calories, resulting in weight loss.
Immune System Support
The penetrating infrared wavelengths from infrared saunas raise the core body temperature, inducing an artificial fever. A fever is the body’s mechanism to strengthen and accelerate the immune response, as seen in the case of infection.
This enhances the immune system and, combined with the improved elimination of toxins and wastes through intense sweating, it can increase overall health and resistance to disease.
As the heat from infrared saunas increases your core body temperature, your circulation will increase along with it. Consistent infrared sauna sessions can stimulate blood flow, improve muscle recovery, and decrease pain and inflammation.
The profuse sweating achieved after just a few minutes in a sauna carries off deeply embedded impurities and dead skin cells, leaving the skin glowing and clean. Increased circulation draws the skin’s own natural nutrients to the surface for a natural glow.
Kimberly Fowler, 61 and a competitive athlete, is known as the Godmother of the Hybrid Fitness movement. Founder of YAS Fitness Centers. She is taking her spin on fitness into wellness and will be launching her new one-stop-shop wellness concept WellFit in 2020.