Growing up in Holland Sauna was a big part of my family’s life. In cooler months we would share time sweating it out together as a family then cooling off with a cold shower or dip in the pool (it was winter remember and I recall my brother Otto checking the water temperature one day and it was 16 degrees Celsius / 60 Fahrenheit!). It was a fun time to connect as a family and it is a ritual I love to continue whenever I find myself with access to a sauna.
Getting hot and sweaty might not be your idea of fun but when it comes to your health, sweating it out might be just what you need. Saunas are a great way to rid your body of unwanted toxins and heavy metals such as mercury and lead, increase your circulation, relieve unwanted pain, assist in weight loss and purify your skin. Not a bad result for half an hour of sitting down right?
With a myriad of sauna variants available, it’s hard to know the difference between traditional, steam and infrared saunas and their associated health benefits, which is why we’ve put in the sweaty work for you.
Which Sauna suits me?
With a range of sauna variants paving their way into the new millennium, we have broken down the benefits of traditional saunas vs infrared saunas. Traditional saunas use temperatures as high as 85 to 95 degrees Celsius (185 to 203 degrees Fahrenheit), which can often be quite discomforting for some, whereas infrared saunas use a much milder temperature environment from 48 – 58 degrees Celsius (118 to 136 degrees Celsius). However, the real value lies within – literally – as the heat of the infrared sauna travels much deeper into the body, creating a more vigorous sweat at a lower temperature.
In short the deeper the heat can penetrate into your body the more effective it can be at drawing out toxins and bringing them to the surface to be expelled through your sweat. Then when you follow with a cold shower (or plunge in icy cold water for the game!) you push the warm blood back into the core of your body where it can go to work again at drawing toxins back to the surface. I personally like to do this 2-3 times each in a sauna session.
7 Health Benefits of Infrared Sauna
- Detoxification: through assisting in sweat production which is one of the primary means of detoxification for our bodies.
- Pain relief: through relaxing your muscles and alleviating muscle aches and inflammation.
- Weight Loss: as the heat generated by the sauna will cause your core temperature to increase, so will your heart rate which will work harder to lower your core temperature – affectively burning more calories.
- Skin Purification: through sweating, we allow our pores to open up and detoxify our body’s largest organ – our skin. This, in turn, allows our body to flush out any impurities our body had accumulated.
- Improved Circulation: as the heat from infrared saunas increases your core body temperature your circulation will increase along with it.
- Back Pain Relief: a study conducted with 50 patients identified using an infrared sauna assisting in significant relief from back pain.
- Alleviating Arthritis Pain: Infrared treatments have been linked to providing significant relief of arthritis and stiffness within the body.
Additionally, the benefits of heat conditioning can also extend to the cells within our body. Studies have shown that inducing heat-shock protein can keep components of the cells functioning longer and preventing damage by scavenging free radicals and increasing cellular antioxidants like glutathione. Heat-shock proteins can even help with muscle gain by imitating cardiovascular exercise.
The Wrap Up
While it’s hard to say whether you will experience all the health claims associated with infrared saunas, there is more evidence than not to suggest it will do you good. And if anything, it makes a great way to unwind, destress and recover from work, training or a long haul flight.
Don’t feel guilty for taking some ‘me time’, book yourself a sauna session and reap the myriad of benefits of this detoxifying and relaxing activity. Just don’t forget your towel!