There’s nothing quite like a 20-minute sweat session in a sauna.
You feel more relaxed and rested after you’re done, and the heat helps relieve sore muscles and improves your overall health and well-being.
But if the high temperatures of a traditional sauna are just too much for you to handle, an infrared sauna may offer the benefits of a sauna without the extreme heat.
What is an infrared sauna?
Unlike a traditional sauna, infrared saunas don’t heat the air around you. Instead, they use infrared lamps (that use electromagnetic radiation) to warm your body directly.
“These saunas use infrared panels instead of conventional heat to easily penetrate human tissue, heating up your body before heating up the air,” explains physical therapist, Vivian Eisenstadt, MAPT, CPT, MASP.
An infrared sauna can operate at a lower temperature (usually between 120˚F and 140˚F) than a traditional sauna, which is typically between 150˚F and 180˚F.
Manufacturers 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.
Supporters of infrared saunas say the heat penetrates more deeply than warmed air. This allows you to experience a more intense sweat at a lower temperature.
Eisenstadt says this environment is more tolerable, which allows you to stay in the sauna longer while increasing your core body temperature by two to three degrees.
What are the benefits of using an infrared sauna?
The supposed benefits of using an infrared sauna are similar to those experienced with a traditional sauna. These include:
relief from sore muscles
relief from joint pain such as arthritis
clear and tighter skin
help for people with chronic fatigue syndrome
People have been using saunas for centuries for all sorts of health conditions. While there are several studies and research on traditional saunas, there aren’t as many studies that look specifically at infrared saunas:
A small 10-person studyTrusted Source found that people with chronic fatigue syndrome benefited from using an infrared sauna as part of an overall treatment.
Another 10-person studyTrusted Source found that infrared saunas helped decrease muscle soreness and increase recovery from strength-training sessions.
According to one review, several studies have found that infrared light therapy saunas may help reduce blood pressure.