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What is Infrared/How does it work on the body: An infrared sauna is a type of sauna that uses light to create heat. This type of sauna is sometimes called a far-infrared sauna — "far" describes where the infrared waves fall on the light spectrum. A traditional sauna uses heat to warm the air, which in turn warms your body. An infrared sauna heats your body directly without warming the air around you.
How it helps with weight loss: Infrared Sauna for Weight Loss
Passive heat also results in weight and fat loss, even without exercise, and combining heat with exercise can double fat loss! A study using mice found that passive heat resulted in the same amount of fat loss as did treadmill running. Mice were either heated for 30 minutes, 5 times a week, or run on a treadmill for 30 minutes, 5 times a week, or both. The mice that were exercised, and the mice that were passively heated, lost the same amount of body fat, about 40% of their total body fat mass. The group that was both heated and exercised lost 72% of their total body fat mass!
Mitochondria are organelles in our cells that are responsible for energy production, and determine our basal metabolism, or the amount of calories we burn at rest. Exercise and passive heat increased muscle mitochondria proteins and activity to a very similar degree, and the effects of the two combined were additive. Mitochondrial activity increased 31% with exercise training alone, 35% with heat therapy alone, and 62% with exercise and heat therapy combined.
How it helps with athletic recovery: Infrared heat can greatly benefit the sore, damaged or tired muscles of an athlete. The heat penetrates the muscles, increasing blood circulation and assisting muscle repair. Infrared heat will also help in the reduction of lactic acids, allowing tight and worn-out muscles to relax. The penetrating heat of the infrared sauna can also help ease the pain of a muscle sprain (after administration of cold and compression).
Light Therapy also referred to as Chromotherapy:
Chromotherapy is a method of treatment that uses the visible spectrum (colors) of electromagnetic radiation to cure diseases. It is a centuries-old concept used successfully over the years to cure various diseases. We have undertaken a critical analysis of chromotherapy and documented its scientific evolution to date. A few researchers have tried to discover the underlying scientific principles, but without quantitative study. Sufficient published material can be found about the subject that provides a complete system of treatment focused on the treatment methodologies and healing characteristics of colors. A number of studies have elaborated the relationship between the human body and colors. We also show the possibility of carrying out diverse research into chromotherapy that is pertinent to deciphering the quantum mechanical dipole moment of water molecules. The quantum mechanical dipole moment as a result of the absorption of different colors, we conjecture, produces charge quantization phenomena. This review illustrates that the development of science in the field of electromagnetic radiation/energy can be very helpful in discovering new dimensions of this old theory.
The incorporation of LED light therapy into an infrared sauna further increases the detoxifying and healing powers of the sauna. Research has found that LED treatment energizes cells, encouraging them to regenerate; this can assist in the healing of acne, scarring, and aging or discolored skin. The use of color also assists with healing; this practice is referred to as chromotherapy. Each color of light offers distinct health benefits:
Infrared Sauna Benefits:
Infrared Sauna benefit #1: Removes chemicals and heavy metals from the body
The skin is the body’s largest organ, and sweating is a highly effective means of eliminating toxins. Research indicates that sauna use promotes the elimination of a variety of environmental toxins, including hormone-disrupting BPA, pesticides, and heavy metals.
Infrared Sauna Benefit #2: Improves blood circulation and oxygenation
When body temperature rises in a sauna, blood vessels dilate and blood flow increases. Increased blood circulation enhances nutrient and oxygen delivery to tissues and organs, promotes their optimal function and regeneration.
Using an infrared sauna lowers blood pressure while simultaneously raising heart rate; these effects mimic cardiovascular exercise and may even help you with weight loss!
Sauna use is associated with improvements in skin hydration and complexion. When combined with Red LED light therapy, far infrared sauna use may also enhance collagen production in the skin, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The chronic stresses of modern-day life cause many people to become stuck in “sympathetic mode,” an agitated nervous system state that is often referred to as the “fight-or-flight” response. Living in a state of chronic stress impairs the body’s ability to heal and eliminate toxins. Using an infrared sauna helps us transition from sympathetic mode into parasympathetic mode, a stress-free state in which the body can relax, detoxify, and heal.
The body’s core temperature can increase by up to three degrees during a typical infrared sauna session! Raising body temperature is an excellent strategy for killing off harmful bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites that have infected the body.
Inflammation lies at the root of many chronic illnesses. Infrared sauna reduces inflammation, suggesting that it may be beneficial in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.
Infrared sauna use causes the body to release endorphins, which are opioid-like molecules that serve as natural painkillers. This may be why sauna has been found to significantly benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and headaches.
By reducing blood pressure and increasing oxygenation and circulation, saunas support heart health and may reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, research has found that sauna use significantly reduces the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease!
Using a sauna increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a compound that promotes the growth of new brain cells and improves brain function and memory. In addition, regular sauna use significantly reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease!
How Infrared improves athletic recovery:
One of the primary ways light therapy helps promote better muscle health and function is by preventing or limiting muscle fatigue, which naturally occurs as a result of physical activity – especially strenuous exercise and training. In fact, research shows red and infrared light therapy is effective in preventing muscle fatigue and enhancing skeletal muscle performance.
So how does light therapy reduce muscle fatigue and repair cells? At the most basic level, red and NIR light therapy improve the mitochondria respiration cycle and help mitochondria produce energy more efficiently – and that means muscles are less likely to suffer from fatigue. That’s it in a nutshell, but of course, the physiologic mechanisms behind all these benefits is a lot more complex. For instance, application of red and near infrared light helps promote production of antioxidants which play a central role in reducing oxidative stress associated with muscle fatigue. And they also increase the production of heat proteins – special proteins that help protect cells from stress and early cell death (apoptosis).4,5 Plus, light therapy helps reduce inflammation that can lead to cell damage.6,7,8 Some studies have shown an increase in microcirculation following light therapy, indicating tissues are more able to receive oxygen and other nutrients important for tissue healing – in addition to ridding themselves of toxic byproducts.
Muscle function and repair are important for improving strength and endurance and reducing fatigue and soreness following workouts and physical activity. But the benefits of red and NIR light therapy don’t stop there. Research shows application of light therapy also promotes the growth of healthy muscle tissue, or muscle hypertrophy, naturally increasing muscle size and bulk – as well as strength.10,11 In fact, one study comparing muscle growth and strength between two groups of athletes – one using light therapy combined with exercise and one using exercise alone – found muscle thickness and strength were significantly improved in those who used light therapy, and results were clearly measurable using ultrasound imaging and isokinetic dynamometry.
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