Infra-Red Saunas: The 20-Minute Detox
If you’ve ever wanted to try a traditional sauna but have been intimidated by the extreme temperatures, an infrared sauna may be for you. Traditional saunas work by heating not only your body but the air around you as well, while infrared (“dry”) saunas transfer the heat directly to your body and don’t affect the air temperature.
They’re smaller and more affordable than regular saunas, so you can have one at home. And they use less electricity and take much less time to warm up.
Apart from those benefits, what’s good about them? According to the Mayo Clinic, both traditional and infrared saunas cause you to sweat and increase your heart rate, and those effects are similar to that of moderate exercise. Sweating also rids your body of toxins by expelling them through the skin, the body’s largest organ.
As for other benefits said to be the result of infrared-sauna sessions, Mayo says, there has been some research. Studies have analyzed the use of infrared saunas for chronic health problems, including rheumatoid arthritis. That research has shown “some benefit,” Mayo says, although, as is usual for preliminary findings, further research – i.e. larger studies – are needed. Additionally, a study from Auburn University also found that sessions in an infrared sauna led to a 205 percent increase in flexibility.
And infrared sauna users haven’t reported any adverse reactions, Mayo says.
But be careful: experts say that no matter what kind of sauna you are using, you may be liable to overheating and dehydration, which can lead to fainting. Some precautions: drink two glasses of water in the hour before you enter the sauna. Don’t drink alcohol; experts say it may impair your judgment about when you should end your session. After your session is over, be sure to rehydrate and to cool down gradually, just as you would after a workout.
The usual length of a session is about 15 to 20 minutes. But experts emphasize that if you stop sweating (a sign of heat stroke) or feel dizzy, nauseous and confused, leave the sauna and contact a physician.
The heat during a session can have a drying effect on your hair and your skin. Experts recommend putting conditioner on your hair, or wearing a towel, to keep hair moist. Post-sauna, be sure to moisturize your skin.