I honestly have no clue if I’m ahead or behind when it comes to jumping on the infrared sauna trend, but a fitness instructor friend of mine brought it to my attention last week and I was instantly intrigued. I knew I had to look into it because, y’all – who knew! It’s seriously so cool the things it can do for your body + overall health, and my first thought was that I had to share the benefits with y’all.
In the last week I’ve gotten to try out a couple workouts over at Red Effect here in Norman. It’s not a very large franchise at the moment, from what I gather, but 1) I’m super glad they’re in my town, and 2) I seriously expect it to boom before too long. It’s essentially like Orangetheory, but Red Effect has full spectrum, infrared panels installed in the ceiling that are designed to warm each studio, primarily to help with warming up the body and alleviating pain both during and after your workout. The studio rooms were definitely warmer than I’m used to working out in, but the calorie burn was real lol I really did feel like I noticed a boost in my stamina for the duration of my workout, though. Is it a classic case of mind over matter? Who knows, all I know is that’s how I felt, and that I thoroughly enjoyed the classes I tried out.
Red Effect is my firsthand experience with infrared therapy, but this isn’t a review of the studio. However, if it’s in your area then I would highly recommend checking it out!
Infrared saunas in general are really starting to trend in the wellness world. Several studies have looked at using infrared saunas in the treatment of chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.1 In addition to helping alleviate chronic diseases, it’s also been shown to help with better sleep, relaxation, detoxification, weight loss, sore muscle relief + joint pain, clear/tighter skin + anti-aging, improved circulation, and alleviate chronic fatigue syndrome.2 The side note, however, is that all studies so far have been fairly small, so larger research is still needed to be able to confirm these current findings, but the up side is that (so far) there have not been any negative effects discovered.
I’m sure your next question is probably, how do they work? Well, I’m sure y’all are familiar with traditional saunas which uses heat to warm the air, which in turn warm your body. An infrared sauna, though, heats your body directly without warming the air around you1 and can operate at a lower temperature than traditional saunas – infrared saunas are usually between 120-140˚F whereas traditional saunas are typically between 150-180˚F. Manufacturers4 claim that in an infrared sauna, only about 20 percent of the heat goes to heat the air and the other 80 percent directly heats your body.2 Furthermore, you can change the colors in the saunas for different benefits:
Red: recommended for treatment of impeded circulation, generates enthusiasm.3
Yellow: a clear purifying color, which stimulates clarity of intellect, as well as toxin processing and elimination. It can help with learning disabilities and with endocrine functions.3 Helps awaken mental inspiration arousing higher mentality.4
Green: a cooling, sedating color, which helps reduce swelling of joints and tissues; it calms the body and helps reduce inflammation.3
Blue: a cool color that has a calming effect. It is helpful in treating sleep disorders and headaches. It also helps in all kinds of cramps and can have an anti-bacterial effect.3 It can also be used for any type of ailments associated with speech, communication, or the throat.4
Turquoise: the color for mental relaxation and tackling embedded psychological barriers. It can help regulate imbalances in the lung and large intestine system; can facilitate spiritual growth.3
Orange: has a freeing action upon the mind, relieving repression. Because orange is a blend of red and yellow, it combines physical energy with mental wisdom, inducing a transformation between lower physical reaction and higher mental response.4
Violet: promotes awareness and consciousness. It increases effects of meditation. It promotes proper functioning of the lymphatic system and can be helpful in times of menopause.3
Other than a couple workouts using red infrared lighting, I haven’t had much firsthand experience yet, so expect to see an updated version of this post later on because it’s definitely something that I want to try out more in-depth. With this trend still being so new, most studies have been fairly small, so although there has been research, know that larger studies are still needed to explore the full depth of both the pros and cons of infrared lighting. If you’re like me and are a nerd for research, here’s a study published by the NIH about FAR-infrared lighting therapy. This trend is something that really excites me, so I hope y’all get a chance to try it out for yourself and let me know what you think!