Last Friday, my husband and I had a spontaneous, hot date night. And by hot I mean, literally hot. We spent 45 minutes sweating in an infrared sauna. We’re both fans of the traditional sauna, but hadn’t experienced, or even knew much about infrared therapy. City Sweats is a holistic spa in our city that specializes in infrared therapy, so we booked an afternoon appointment and anticipated a relaxing sweat session.
Traditional vs Infrared Saunas
Traditional saunas use either electricity or wood to warm the space and heat the air around you. These saunas can reach high temperatures, upwards of 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Infrared saunas use radiator elements to generate heat, which warms the body without making the room itself too hot. The ideal temperature is usually 110-130 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though the room is a lower temperature, the infrared heat travels much deeper into the body, resulting in a more vigorous sweat. According to the spa we visited, infrared saunas are able to release stored toxins up to 7x more efficiently than a traditional sauna because it affects the body at a cellular level.
Benefits of Infrared Saunas
The benefits of infrared therapy are still being studied, but the research so far has shown major advantages to sweating at least one time per week. Some of these benefits include: - Improve Heart Function - Evidence supports infrared therapy as a treatment for normalizing blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Improve circulation - As your core body temperature increases, circulation increases with it. Infrared light can help stimulate blood flow up to twice the normal rate. This can lead to improved muscle recovery and a decrease in pain and inflammation after exercising.
- Weight Loss- One infrared session can burn up to 900 calories in a 45 minute session. The heat causes your core temperature to increase, which in turn increases your heart rate as it works to cool itself off. It’s the same effect as when you’re exercising, but you get to relax!
- Relaxation- Infrared is gentle and soothing. The heat promotes a calm mind and helps to balance the body’s level of cortisol (stress hormone). The heat also relaxes muscles and relieves tension throughout the body.
- Skin Rejuvenation- Increases cell turnover, balances skin-tone, hydrates dry skin, and removes damaging free-radicals.
Before & After
Eat a light meal an hour or two before your sauna to ensure your body is not busy digesting during a session. A salad or smoothie is a hydrating and healthy meal. Make sure you are properly hydrated (drinking at least half a liter) since saunas involve a fair amount of sweating. Once you’re in, sit back, relax, and let the infrared do the work.
After the saunas session is over, shower off to wash away any lingering toxins. Keep up with your hydration and make sure you’re replenishing the fluid you’ve lost. It’s recommended that you take 10-30 minutes to relax, and take it easy for up to an hour.
So how did we feel after our sauna treatment?
Because the heat wasn’t as intense as a traditional sauna, I was much more comfortable and was able to stay in longer. It took my body more time to sweat, but it was a gentle heat, like laying under the sun at beach. We drank plenty of water during the session to stay hydrated and it felt so good I wanted to stay in longer than our 45 minute session! After showering off, we were led to the relaxation room and restored with tea, orange slices, alkaline water and quiet time. It was a different type of date night, but one that I think we’ll be having more often!
Note: Infrared saunas are not safe for everyone. If you are pregnant, have diabetes, heart disease, have large medical implants, are prone to hemorrhaging, or have another medical condition in question, talk to your doctor before using an infrared sauna.