Growing up in the grey and damp Pacific Northwest (which has a climate almost identical to Britain), I’ve never been particularly well adapted to hotter climates, and have certainly struggled in scorching temperatures for prolonged periods of time. In my youth, I had done sessions in the sauna, whether at the gym or local pool, but could never really handle more than 10-15 minutes inside at a time. Whether it was the harshness that I felt in my breathing or the grogginess I often experienced afterwards, I never really saw much beyond the basic relaxation purposes when it came to the sauna. I was also unaware of how drastic the benefits of sauna could be until I discovered the Clearlight infrared sauna.
For those unfamiliar with infrared itself, it is a region of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum like to radio, UV, and x-Ray, that we all experience on a daily basis simply as heat. There are no adverse effects from exposure to infrared rays, unlike x-Ray and UV radiation which can be cancerous and should be limited in terms of frequency of exposure. We both absorb and emit infrared as we can see through our familiarity with the use of night vision cameras which implement the use of infrared, allowing us to view body temperature as thermal light. It is thought that absorbing and emitting of infrared has a dramatic effect on the climate of our planet.
In the infrared sauna, instead of heating the air around us which would in turn warm us, the infrared heats the body from within, raising the core temperature to induce sweating at lower temperatures while allowing us to endure the heat for a longer period of time.
It will be important to note here that there are three types of rays in the infrared spectrum each with their own categorical benefits; near, mid, and far infrared. Being on the shorter end of the frequency range, near-infrared penetrates the epidermis layer of the skin which can be seen to aid in skin rejuvenation, wound healing, and overall skin health, more cosmetic benefits if you will. Mid-infrared will then be travelling deeper into the body where we start to see cardio-vascular benefits occurring. We’re talking vasodilation, increased red blood cell count, and improved circulation akin to doing a session of cardio workouts. These effects can be prolonged and continue even post-sauna. Last but not least far-infrared is where the powerful detoxing benefits start to really happen. The far-infrared is raising the body’s core temperature producing a sweat from a cellular level, this being where a large portion of toxins are stored. In addition to pulling parabens, free-radicals, and metals from the body, far-infrared can also assist in alleviating high blood pressure, muscle perfusion and as a result glycogen depletion.
On top of these many wonderful benefits essential for maintaining health, the infrared sauna can actually help us to improve our performance and endurance levels as well. Dr Rhonda Patrick has researched the phenomenon known as “hyperthermic conditioning” extensively and the finds are pretty eye-popping. The term refers to acclimating ourselves independent of physical activity by exposing our system to bouts of intense heat. In essence, shocking our system into high gear via heat exposure will help cause adaptations to help overcome negative associations with the elevation of core body temperature. Among the many amazing benefits she lists are improved cardiovascular systems and lower heart rate, lower core body temperature during workload, increased efficiency of oxygen transport to muscles, increased plasma volume, hypertrophy (increase in the size of muscle cells), activation of heat shock proteins, and improved insulin sensitivity. In one of the most astounding statistics, a study was conducted over a twenty year period which found a 24% decrease in all-cause mortality rate for participants that used the sauna 2-3 times a week. Those using the sauna 4-7 times a week saw a whopping 40% decrease in all-cause mortality rate.
I’m no doctor or scientist, but I don’t have to be in order to convey the massive potential that the infrared sauna has to be a key tool in preserving health and aiding in rejuvenation. If this isn’t enough to convince you, hop in for thirty minutes the morning after a heavy shift in the pub and see how you feel. The results are real and they are often drastic! I can attest to the huge stamina boost, the induction of runner’s high, and a visible improvement in skin quality attributed to the infrared sauna. I would urge you to do your own research and try it out for yourself!
8th October 2018