This was a hard article to write and I’ll tell you why. Most benefits from using an infrared sauna are unsupported claims to sell sauna units and to get people to use them for the wrong reasons. It’s not all bad news, because there are actual reasons to use an infrared sauna, which is why we invested in one anyways.
Claim: It Burns Calories
The idea behind this was when you sit in a 150 degree infrared sauna, your cardiovascular system can be triggered similar to exercising levels. I think I even remember a clip where Oprah said you can burn up to 500 calories just sitting in a hot box. This is just not possible.
Truth: It’s Good For Your Heart
Yes, your heart is pumping, blood is flowing, and the body is sweating. This will consume slightly more calories than just sitting on the couch, but not enough to matter. You need to actually move your body to burn a meaningful amount of calories. Even 30 minutes on a treadmill, the average person will only consume 240 to 355 calories.
While triggering your cardiovascular system in an infrared sauna won’t burn hundreds of calories, it is still mimicking a healthy side effect of cardio exercise. This study shows good results for short-term improvement in cardiac function. This means regular use of an infrared sauna could be beneficial to the cardiovascular system, especially if you’re not much of a runner.
Claim: You’ll Sweat Out Toxins
After a few minutes in a 150 degree infrared sauna, you’ll begin to sweat quite profusely. The claim is that toxins, harmful heavy metals, and bad by-products of digestion will seep out through your skin pores. The issue with the term “toxins” is that it’s being used as a catch-all for anything bad in your body.
Truth: Minor Detoxification
There is evidence of heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, and lead leaving the body through sweat at a decent rate. If for some reason you think you have a heavy metal overdose, a sauna session will probably aid in your body’s detoxification. Your liver is the biggest player in filtering anything your body doesn’t like, along with your kidneys for excretion.
So go ahead and hop into a sauna and sweat out some heavy metals, but remember to just stay hydrated and let your body do what it does best.
Claim: Relaxes Muscles
It may seem obvious that warming up the muscles will make them easier to stretch and contract, but there’s more to the story when it comes to using an infrared sauna.
Truth: Relaxes & Improves Performance
Dr. Rhonda Patrick found that using an infrared sauna prior to an exercise actually increased muscle endurance and overall performance. What’s even more interesting is that patients using the sauna just 2 days a week were able to increase their running endurance by 32% compared to the non-sauna runners.
Infrared Saunas Still Rock!
Even though a lot of the claims surrounding the infrared sauna are over-exaggerated, there’s plenty of reasons to book a session and enjoy the benefits it has on your cardiovascular system and your muscles. Thanks for reading!