Saunas at the Gym Are Old News. Personal Infrared Saunas Are the Future
Though the concept of a “personal infrared sauna” reads like an SNL sketch poking fun at the needless luxuries of a tech billionaire, the reality nowadays is you could get one for a couple hundred bucks.
But what is an infrared sauna, and how is it different from a traditional one? How big is a “personal” infrared sauna? Which are worth the money? Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is an Infrared Sauna?
Infrared saunas are effectively fancy versions of the traditional, radiative heat sauna that’s been around for hundreds of years. Instead of using rocks or a heating unit to warm the air, infrared saunas use far infrared (FIR) bulbs that heat your skin directly. The result is an efficient sauna experience that’s more comfortable for some users.
These products are newer to the consumer market, so the science is well behind the marketing. Be wary of outsized claims made by brands selling infrared saunas accordingly. Below, find some of the benefits the makers of these products claim, as well as the benefits researchers have pinpointed thus far.
Benefits of Infrared Saunas
The benefits infrared sauna manufacturers claim are difficult to support and difficult to entirely reject. Here are some of the benefits the companies that make infrared saunas claim to be associated with consistent use:
- Improved sleep
- Improved circulation
- Muscle soreness relief
- Joint pain relief
- Healthier skin
- Weight loss booster
What do they actually do? Most research specifically addressing the benefits or drawbacks of infrared saunas is very new, limited, still developing, or a combination of all of the above. Here are some science-backed claims.
A study (1) observing ten physically active men found that bathing in infrared saunas after exercise was favorable for muscular recovery. Critically, the study found this to be the case with both endurance and strength training exercises.
Blood pressure reduction
Though still under the microscope, a few studies (2) strongly support infrared sauna use as an effective therapeutic measure for hypertension, or high blood pressure, as well as other common coronary maladies.
Whether a personal infrared sauna will cure what ails you or not, be assured that, at the very least, it’ll be a relaxing hiding place for you. Infrared saunas may use different mechanics to warm your body, but ultimately they’re still largely doing what a traditional sauna would do. If you’re particularly sensitive to heat, though, infrared saunas will be more relaxing. This is because the air in an infrared sauna will be significantly cooler than the air in a traditional sauna, making it a bit more comfortable to be in. You should be hydrated and set a hard stop time limit for sessions regardless, though.