We have used saunas since around 2000 BC. The earliest known accounts of using a sauna were from Northern Europe, where people dug holes into the ground and heated it with hot rocks over coals. Apart from this, indigenous populations around the world utilised sweat lodges for ceremonial purposes throughout human history.
“Sauna” is a Finnish word, and there’s a Finnish expression that says, “No sauna, no home,” representing Finland as the uncontested capital of sauna culture, where there are 3 million saunas, for a population of 5 million.
The mechanism behind saunas is that it utilises heat or steam to raise the body’s core temperature. Due to this, you will experience intense sweat, which increases your heart rate and will eventually pump more blood to your skin. This is the way of your body cooling you down. This process mimics the effects of exercise and provides similar health benefits.
Traditional saunas work by heating elements to raise the temperature of the air inside. This way, the air temperature reaches between 185 and 200 degrees, and your body starts sweating.
In contrast, infrared saunas work by utilising infrared light to heat your body while leaving the air around unchanged. This results in rising the body’s core temperature without sitting in a room having an ambient temperature close to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. A number of people find this more comfortable than traditional saunas.
Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas
Some studies showed that using an infrared sauna regularly reduces fat, which may be due to a sauna mimicking the effect of vigorous exercise by raising your body’s core temperature. However, the scientific community still debate the weight loss benefit of saunas.
There are several claims that infrared sauna can detoxify your body. “Detoxing” refers to the removal of harmful elements from your body. However, this claim of detoxification is still debated due to the lack of proper scientific evidence.
Saunas can be beneficial for your heart health. Some studies showed that people having regular sauna sessions have lower blood pressure, and other studies also demonstrated improvements in the congestive heart failure symptoms.
Some studies also suggested that having regular sauna sessions can lower the risk of having pneumonia. Some people have also experienced an improvement in their asthma symptoms.
Another widely experienced benefit of saunas is that it is found to ease body pain when used regularly. Some people also reported reduced symptoms associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia after using the sauna. One study also reported that saunas could reduce tension and headaches.
Infrared saunas are fairly safe similar to traditional ones; however, you should discuss with your doctor before your first session if you have any health conditions such as high blood pressure or heart problems.