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Infrared sauna therapy –

 it is heating up

By Lisa Nicklanovich

People have been using saunas all over the world for centuries, but infrared (IR) saunas have been getting more attention lately by those who claim a number of health benefits. ‘Infra’ red light means light that is below red on the spectrum. It has such long wavelengths that we can’t usually see it. IR saunas feature lamps that use electromagnetic radiation to warm one’s body directly instead of traditional saunas which heat the air. Supporters of IR saunas say the heat penetrates more deeply than warmed air and allows the user to experience a more intense sweat at a lower temperature.

Similar to a traditional sauna, the benefits that many experience in a light-filled IR sauna include muscle recovery, relaxation, stress reduction and improved circulation. Due to the lower temperature, many people find they can sweat in an IR sauna more comfortably than in a traditional sauna.

IR saunas are opening around the country and are appearing in medical spas, gyms and hotels. Franchise businesses like HOTWORX feature hot fitness classes in the IR saunas. Some IR saunas also feature chromotherapy, also called color light therapy. During an IR sauna session, a user chooses a hue on the light spectrum that corresponds to the outcome they are hoping to achieve. Red light therapy, for example, exposes the skin to a low-light wavelength which is often used to decrease stress and increase energy.

To get a regular dose of IR sauna therapy, consumers are purchasing at-home saunas from a growing list of manufacturers. Featuring wood panels and tightly sealed glass doors, home IR saunas range in size from room-for-one to higher-priced models that fit four or more people comfortably.

Portable home IR saunas, made of packable material, and IR sauna blankets are two other more affordable at-home options.

Small studies have looked at using IR saunas in the treatment of chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Some evidence of benefit was found but larger studies specifically using IR saunas are needed to confirm these results.

Manufacturers of IR saunas claim additional benefits, including weight loss, anti-aging, cellulite reduction and skin rejuvenation. Until wider studies are done to confirm these claims, it’s up to the consumer to decide how much the deep-reaching heat of an IR sauna benefits their overall health and well-being.




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