Saunas are considered great for your health. They are not just a relaxing way to end a workout but also have a positive effect on heart health. However, like most other things, too much of them can be bad for you. There are some risks associated with an infrared sauna that you should be aware of. Once you are careful about them, you can continue to enjoy the benefits of your sauna sessions.
How Infrared Saunas Work
These saunas work a bit differently than the traditional saunas most people are used to. While the traditional ones used heating elements and sauna rocks to heat the room by convection, the infrared saunas use infrared light to produce radiant heat.
The infrared light from the panels penetrates deep into your skin and makes you sweat profusely. These saunas run at a much lower temperature (at around 120-150°F) than traditional saunas as well. But their deep penetration helps you reap most of the same benefits that traditional saunas promote.
Another advantage of running at lower temperatures is that they are quite friendly to newbie sauna bathers and young children. Additionally, it allows sauna manufacturers to add more features than they could in traditional saunas without worrying about them getting damaged.
Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas
Infrared saunas offer a ton of benefits including:
1. They Improve Cardiovascular Health
An infrared sauna may affect your heart and blood vessels in ways that are similar to moderate exercise. Once you are in the session, your heart works harder due to increased blood flow and circulation which strengthens your overall cardiovascular health.
2. They Help You Lose Weight & Build Muscle
In an infrared sauna session, your body burns more calories, helping with your weight loss. Also, several studies suggest that saunas can increase muscle growth after a hard workout. Thus, they can help you burn more calories over the long haul.
3. They Boost Your Immune System
Saunas also help boost your immune system since they increase white blood cells and offer multiple other health benefits.
4. They Help You Recover from a Workout
Most people are aware of this benefit. The warmth of saunas increases blood flow which helps you relax your muscles. It also gets rid of lactic acid from your body.
5. They Improve Your Skin Health
Saunas are considered a great way to improve your skin health. They get rid of excess minerals, dead skin cells, and toxins from your skin and body.
Health Risks of Using an Infrared Sauna
1. Heat Stroke
Heat strokes are one of the most common injuries from saunas if people are not careful. A 2018 systematic review found that the infrared heat may cause people to become overheated, dehydrated, and increase the risk of a heat stroke.
To avoid this, you should never sleep while in the sauna and take the sessions for no more than 20-30 minutes. And, if at any point you feel nauseous, dizzy, light-headed, or uncomfortable, you should exit the sauna immediately.
It is another health risk associated with saunas. Some people take a sauna session for too long without drinking water and become severely dehydrated. That is why you should always drink a lot of water before you enter. It will keep your body sufficiently hydrated. Also, you should avoid drinking soda, sugary drinks, or alcohol before the sauna.
3. EMF Radiation
This is a lesser-known risk associated with saunas. EMF radiation or electromagnetic field radiation is found in our regular gadgets as well like Wi-Fi routers, cell phones, microwaves, etc. Limiting your sauna time will take care of this risk.
On a positive note, if you are using a sauna from a reputed manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about this issue. Most infrared sauna manufacturers are actively trying to limit the amount of EMF their saunas produce and have an EMF rating that you can easily check.
4. Risks for People with Medical Conditions
The infrared saunas are considered safe for most people. However, if you have a medical condition or are taking medications, or have implanted medical devices, you should be cautious and consult your physician before using the sauna. Also, people that previously suffered from the following conditions should try to avoid the sauna:
- Heart attacks
- Aortic stenosis
- Brain tumors
- Multiple sclerosis
- Angina pectoris
The infrared saunas are completely safe if you are using them properly. You should read about the health risks involved and take proper precautions while in the sauna. And yes, you should always have water handy to rehydrate your body.