The benefits of infrared sauna technology are based on Far Infrared Rays (FIR) which has the ability to penetrate and radiate thermal energy to the human body. In our modern world, infrared sauna therapy has been adapted to home use as an alternative to traditional steam saunas but still providing the same health benefits.
Infrared heat used in saunas is at a much lower temperature (110°F-130°F) than the heat found in a steam sauna which normally falls between 180°F and 200°F. But the most important beneficial difference is that infrared works by heating the object directly and not the air in the room; that is, the body is heated through direct absorption of infrared radiation. The body’s core temperature is raised slightly while the air temperature feels quite pleasant.
During the sauna, the bather experiences profuse sweating due to the effects of the FIR. Most of the therapeutical benefits of an infrared sauna are largely superficial in terms of the body’s internal processes, but studies show there is definitely an increase of heart rate as well as an increase in circulation due to vasodilatation of the cutaneous (skin) blood vessels.
Some other known benefits of infrared sauna use include: a temporary reduction of pain, stiffness and aches in muscles and joints; reduction of stress and fatigue; normalization of blood pressure and an increase of cardiovascular conditioning; and improvement of skin problems such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Claims that weight loss is one of the benefits of infrared sauna use are somewhat exaggerated. The radiant heat will cause you to perspire and lose fluids but the water weight will be regained once you drink fluids again. Yet the assertion that calories are burned during sauna therapy remains true; the body uses 0.568K calories to produce just one gram of sweat. So a fit person sitting in an infrared sauna for 30 minutes produces up to 500 grams of sweat which equates to almost 300 kcal consumed. The water loss can be replenished immediately, yet calories are burned nonetheless.
During an infrared sauna session, your heart rate increases as your body attempts to sweat enough to cool down your core. This increased heart rate, which can be up to 75% in some people, is similar to an elevated heart rate that occurs during exercise. Of course, you don’t have the same load bearing workout that a walk or run gives your bones and muscles, so sitting in a sauna in no way replaces exercise the body needs. But for people who are unable to exercise, infrared sauna therapy can help to achieve the benefits of increased cardiovascular activity.
While some of the medical benefits of infrared sauna use have been questioned, there have been no findings that home infrared saunas are in any way unsafe. All medical professionals, however, do agree that sweating is always good for you as long as you’re healthy and can stay sufficiently hydrated.