Infrared Saunas Are The New Hot Wellness Trend You Need To Try
A wellness spa treatment that solves all of your problems in less than an hour sounds too good to be true, but that’s what all the buzz about infrared saunas seems to be saying these days. A handful of companies across the country opted for this specific heat technology over your traditional gym sauna experience, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way you view this classic detox method.
What’s so special about infrared heat?
Infrared heat comes from infrared radiation (a specific kind of light ray). That light is invisible to the human eye, but when the rays touch our skin, we naturally absorb the heat they create. The sun is a prime example of an infrared heat source, so just think about how you feel during a sunny day at the beach and you can imagine how this kind of heat in infrared saunas would differ from the stereotypical steam room you’ve experienced in the past.
Is it really safe?
Infrared heat technology isn’t actually new, explained HigherDOSE Co-Founder and Co-CEO Katie Kaps. It’s just new in this specific application.
“Basically, infrared has been around for over 50 years,” said Kaps. “It’s so safe that it’s used in prematurely born baby incubators. And if you look around at research and studies, you can’t find any information about harmful effects. It’s been endorsed by doctors, chiropractors and Olympic athletes. Of course, everybody is different so it’s important to be aware. If you have a heart condition, you want to check with your doctor before doing it because it does increase your heart rate. It’s similar to a workout.”
How is it similar to a workout?
Sitting in an infrared sauna for a standard 45-minute session increases your heart rate similarly to a cardio session and can burn between 400 and 600 calories as the body works to cool itself, according to Kaps. But that’s not a special effect of the infrared heat specifically; rather, it’s more about your ability to tolerate the heat and remain in the sauna for a longer period of time.
“A traditional sauna is 212 degrees and an infrared sauna is 150 degrees, so you can stay in there longer and get more of a sweat, which lets you burn more calories,” explained Kaps. “It creates a deeper more intense sweat at a lower temperature. If you’ve ever been in a normal gym sauna, sometimes it’s so hot it can kind of punch you in the face right when you walk in and you only want to stay in for 10 minutes. You’re not going to burn that many calories if you’re only in there for 10 minutes versus 45 minutes in an infrared sauna.”
Can it be a direct substitute for exercise?
If your focus of working out is calorie burn, then yes, because 600 calories burned is 600 calories burned no matter how you do it. But if you’re working on improving muscle strength, endurance or tone, you’ll definitely want to keep that gym membership and enjoy the sauna as a supplement to your workout. Just be mindful, listen to your body and stay hydrated.
The main edge infrared sauna use has on workouts in terms of weight loss-focused exercise is that you don’t come out feeling ravenously hungry like you do after an hour of high-intensity interval training or taking a crazy boot camp class. And let’s be honest — no one likes to be hangry.
“You come out feeling very relaxed and content because of that serotonin release, but you’re not starving afterward,” said Kaps.
How quickly do you see results?
After just one session, apparently. Companies like HigherDOSE offering the treatment boast that your skin immediately looks healthier and you feel less stressed due to the amount of serotonin your body releases. And lucky for us, that makes this infrared sauna experience a good option after an evening of too much boozing.
“You can go in there feeling crappy, hungover and miserable and come out feeling like a new person,” said Kaps. “It’s especially good in the summer when people have that extra glass of rosé and are in the mood to party and you want to get rid of your hangover and you’re not in the mood to do your workout. It’s a great way to reset yourself.”
Just don’t overdo it because your body is likely already struggling with a fair amount of dehydration. Drink all the water, people.
Is there a direct alternative to infrared saunas for people who don’t live close to a spa offering this treatment?
Sadly, only infrared heat is infrared heat. However, many spa groups offer infrared heat spa wraps you can buy and use at home that create similar benefits. That could make for a fun Sunday experiment.
Regardless of whether infrared saunas are scientifically all they’re cracked up to be, we certainly think they’re worth a try. Worst-case scenario: you end up relaxing for 45 minutes in a beautiful sauna. And there’s really nothing “worst case” about that.