Infrared saunas use infrared heaters that emit light, experienced as radiant heat and absorbed by the surface of the skin. Infrared saunas produce effects at a lower temperature than traditional saunas, which circulate heated air and radiation from heated surfaces. Most saunas have similar health benefits – deep tissue relaxation effects, beauty enhancement (such as increase in skin health and alleviation of skin problems) weight loss and cellulite reduction through detoxification, improved circulation to hands, feet and skin, alleviation of chronic and acute pain, immune enhancing effects and enhanced physical conditioning. However, infrared saunas have a number of advantages over traditional saunas.
Infrared heat penetrates deeper under the skin. Heat penetrates 1 ½ inches so the effects are felt deeper, compared to traditional saunas that heat body tissue more superficially. Heat from traditional saunas only penetrates ½ an inch under the skin and doesn’t reach the majority of muscles, connective tissues and some organs.
Infrared heat is more effective helping to release toxins through sweating. The heat breaks up clusters of water molecules that may be preventing the release of toxins. In addition, infrared heat is also more effective at delivering the blood supply to fat, necessary to liberate lipid-trapped toxins.
Infrared sauna users sweat more heavily at a lower temperature. Users sweat 2-3 times more than they do in a traditional sauna, for the same amount of time. Because the sauna is only heating the primary object in the room (you!) and sacrificing only 20% of the energy used to heat the air, sweating occurs at 100-140 degrees, rather than the 160-200 degrees commonly experienced in traditional saunas.
The sweat composition is different. Sweat from infrared heat is loaded with more toxins including unwanted chemicals and heavy metals. The body gets rid of more toxins and more blood is bought to tissues that don’t always receive a rich flow. Nutrients and oxygen are bought to extremities and muscles and connective tissues are relaxed.
You use up more calories while sweating. An infrared sauna session can burn up to 1000 calories. To put that into perspective, a 68kg person doing 30 minutes of exercise will burn 600 calories rowing at peak effort, 590 calories marathon running, 265 calories in a fast game of tennis and 300 calories swimming freestyle.
Infrared heat also makes for a more pleasant and comfortable environment and is easier on your lungs and eyes. People often find it hard to breathe when entering a traditional sauna, and they often find dry, intense heat uncomfortable for their lungs. The lower temperatures of infrared saunas mean it is easier to breathe inside the sauna room, and the heat generated is not as hard on people’s eyes. Infrared saunas are the only sauna safe to use for cardiac patients.
Written by Ashleigh Davis.