Health Benefits Of Far Infrared Sauna Therapy
Once upon a time we owned a Far Infrared Sauna (also referred to as FIR Sauna). I bought it about ten years ago (last time we lived in New Zealand) and we owned it for about two years.
Hubby and I loved our sauna, and we used it almost daily – especially during the colder winter months! We’d often get out of bed and into the sauna before having a shower and breakfast. It looked similar to the one in this picture, but it had less glass on the front.
We only sold it because we were moving back to Australia, and we haven’t really settled anywhere long enough to consider buying another – until now that is! 🙂
Why Buy A Far Infrared Sauna?
As I said we both LOVED our first FIR sauna. We used it lots, and we enjoyed the health benefits. At the time I was doing quite a lot of exercise, training for triathlons, and trying to shed some weight.
What I found back then was that the FIR sauna helped with all of what I was trying to achieve. I lost weight, I felt and looked healthier, and it just seemed to help me massively with muscle recovery after training.
What I know now that I didn’t know back then, is that I have Pyroluria, and so my body simply doesn’t detox the way it should. I believe that this is why I felt that my far infrared sauna therapy made such a huge difference to me.
In a hurry?
So What Are The Benefits Of Infrared Sauna Therapy?
The benefits of using a far infrared sauna are many and varied. The following is a list of just some of those benefits:
- Improved detoxification
- Improved circulation
- Increased cellular health
- Weight loss
- Improved skin condition
- Improved wound healing
- Pain relief
- Improved post exercise muscle recovery
- Cardiovascular benefits
- Reduced inflammation
In fact one of the main reasons for the benefits of far infrared sauna use IS the effect it has on inflammation. Reduced inflammation is key to the improvement or elimination of many chronic health conditions.
The other major benefit of course is the increased detoxification and resulting improved cellular health.
How Does Infrared Sauna Work?
Infrared saunas are a type of sauna that uses heat and light to relax and detoxify the body. Infrared saunas are a dry sauna, as opposed to the traditional steam sauna which is a wet sauna.
FIR saunas use far infrared light to create heat in the body (rather than heating the air as traditional steam saunas do), causing you to sweat and release stored toxins. They are safe, relatively inexpensive and extremely beneficial for health.
The heat from the far infrared sauna penetrates deep into the tissues of the body, causing a rise in core temperature, promoting sweating and detoxification at the cellular level where toxins are stored.
Far infrared saunas provide more benefit with less heat than traditional saunas which operate at extremely high temperatures. Because of this, far infrared saunas are more comfortable to use with a more gentle, soothing and therapeutic heat. Many people have trouble staying in a steam sauna for long enough to get much benefit due to the extreme heat and oppressive steam.
I know that the few times I’ve tried a steam sauna I’ve found it stressful and taxing on my body. I found it difficult to breath, quite uncomfortable and I didn’t last long at all.
However, while I never managed to stay in our far infrared sauna for as long as my hubby did, I did manage 15 to 20 minutes each time which is definitely long enough to gain considerable health benefits.
My hubby is a bit of heat freak… 😉
And So What Is Far Infrared Light?…
I’m not a scientist… If fact I’m not even really interested in the science behind these things and how they work (I just like using them and reaping the benefits!), but my limited understanding is that far infrared light is a small part of the light spectrum that we receive from the sun. It’s not the burning light, but it is a heating light.
This is a quote from a published article on NCBI:
In the IR radiation bands, only FIR transfers energy purely in the form of heat which can be perceived by the thermoreceptors in human skin as radiant heat . Not only is FIR absorbed by the human body but it is also emitted by the body in the form of black body radiation (3–50 μm with an output peak at 9.4 μm).
How Often To Use Infrared Sauna For Weightloss, Detox Or General Health Benefits?
Many people use their saunas 3 or 4 times a week and some say once or twice a week is enough, but you can safely use an infrared sauna every day (we often used to). In fact the more you use it, the faster you’ll get results. Just ensure you replenish lost fluids by drinking plenty of water!
How To Use Far Infrared Sauna?
The usual amount of time spent in infrared sauna is generally between 15 and 30 minutes per session. That amount of time is probably long enough for most of us. In fact I’d say that most people would struggle to last any longer. Even if you’re a heat junky like my hubby, by the thirty minute mark I reckon you’ll be feeling the heat for sure, the sweat will be pouring and the cool fresh air outside of the sauna will be very inviting!
If you’re using your sauna in the privacy of your own home, get naked and take a towel to sit on to soak up the sweat. We had dedicated towels for our sauna, and in hubby actually used to take two towels because he’d sweat so much he’d be making puddles on the floor of the sauna…
Sweaty critter…. 😕
How Many Calories Does Infrared Sauna Burn?
Now, as well as all the other benefits, studies show that infrared sauna use can help with weight loss (a true motivating factor for me!). In fact according to information published in the Journal of the American Medical Association back in 1981, infrared sauna weight loss sessions were shown to burn up to 600 calories.
The following quote is from this document about Infrared Energy by Dr. Hildegarde Staninger, Industrial Toxicologist & Doctor of Integrative Medicine:
Cardiovascular Conditioning and Weight Loss
The August 7, 1981 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
reported what is common knowledge today. Many people who run, do so to place a demand
on their cardiovascular system, as well as to build muscle. What isn’t well known is that it
also reported the “regular use of a sauna may impart a similar stress on the cardiovascular
system, and its regular use may be as effective as a means of cardiovascular conditioning
and burning of calories as regular exercise.” It has been found that the far-infrared sauna
makes it possible for people in wheelchairs, those who are otherwise unable to exert
themselves, and those who won’t follow an exercising/conditioning program to achieve a
cardiovascular training effect. It also allows for more variety in any ongoing training
program. As a confirmation of the validity of this form of cardiovascular conditioning,
extensive research by NASA in the early 1980’s led to the conclusion that infrared
stimulation of cardiovascular function would be the ideal way to maintain cardiovascular
conditioning in American astronauts during long space flights.
As you can see, sitting on your butt in an infrared sauna has similar effects to exercise, increasing metabolic rate, having great health benefits and burning calories! It increases blood flow and heart rate, and sessions have been shown to burn as much as 600 calories which may be as much as an hour-long jogging session on a treadmill. 😯
Don’t Traditional Steam Saunas Help To Lose Weight Too?
Traditional saunas use either steam (or just plain old heat) to heat the air in the sauna to make it hot enough to induce sweating. The difference here is that it has been shown that most of the weight lost in this type of sauna is water weight and that is replaced as soon as you re-hydrate.
Far infrared saunas on the other hand heat the body, increasing core temperature, increasing heart rate and circulation, allowing an efficient release of cellular toxins and burning calories. The weight loss from the use of infrared saunas is real, and over time can make a difference to your overall body composition.
That’s what you and I want – right? 😉
Timber cabinet style infrared saunas start at about $1000 in the US (and around $1700 here in New Zealand) for far infrared sauna that one or two people can use at at time.
However if money (or space) is an issue, those in the US have the option of buying a portable far infrared sauna (we don’t seem to have them available here in NZ – yet).
Now, while they’re not as visually attractive, portable far infrared saunas do have their advantages and they’ll do the same job as the larger saunas. The portable infrared sauna pictured is a top seller on Amazon and it gets fantastic reviews! If I could buy one of these I’d be tempted because we don’t have a lot of space in our current home, and for the price of these, at around the $200 – $300, they’re really affordable!
Infrared Sauna Heaters: Ceramic Vs Carbon Fiber
I assume that my first infrared sauna had ceramic heaters. I don’t remember reading about any other options at the time. However today the difference between these two options are worth considering.
- From what I’ve read, carbon fiber heaters are the newer technology. The advantages of them over the ceramic heaters seems to be that they are more efficient
- use less energy
- last longer
- have lower surface temperature
- emit rays closer to far infrared
- provide deeper tissue penetration
However I’ve decided that while I’d prefer a sauna with carbon fiber heaters, I won’t let that sway me from a good deal. I’ll see what I can get with the money I have available. After all, I was more than happy with my old sauna with ceramic heaters, and it’s still going strong as it was bought from us by friends who still have (and use) it. So I’ll buy the best sauna I can, because in my view, ANY far infrared sauna is better than NO infrared sauna! 🙂