Infrared Sauna Workouts

By Antonio Sowers PT

What is an Infrared Sauna?

A growing trend is working out at a gym called Hotworx. Hotworx utilizes an infrared sauna.  This is a type of sauna that uses light to make heat. An infrared sauna heats your body directly without warming the air around you. A regular sauna uses heat to warm the air, which in turn warms your body

Infrared Saunas are a emerging trend in healthcare for athletes to work out in. JOI Rehab

Image of Infrared Sauna

Generally, people like saunas because they cause the body to react as if they have gone through a moderate exercise routine.  Such as vigorous sweating and an increased heart rate. An infrared sauna gives these results at lower temperatures than does a regular sauna. This makes an infrared sauna a choice for people who can’t stand the heat of a sauna. Does that mean there are clear health benefits to using infrared saunas?

Is Working out in Infrared Sauna Good?

There have been many studies looking at using these infrared saunas in the treatment of long-lasting health problems.  Some have found proof that saunas may help. Conditions that have been studied include high blood pressure, heart failure, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, headache, type 2 diabetes, and arthritis. Larger and more-exact studies are needed to prove these results to better replicate the population.

Is It Safe to Pair Infrared Lighting with Your Workout?

With so many gyms and fitness products around, those in the industry must create new and exciting ways to generate interest or they quickly go by the waste side. Next time you drive around town look and see how many yoga studios and smaller niche gyms there are in your area.

Infrared fitness is a heat-related workout that has been around for a few years and has recently gained in popularity. It is being used in saunas and yoga studios. Now you are seeing entire fitness centers that are filled with these red heat lights. These are all marked as enhancing your workout results.

What is Infrared Light?

Infrared light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that emits energy in the form of heat. It is a naturally produced energy source that at some level all objects emit. At one extreme of the spectrum is the sun, which gives off about half of its heat through infrared radiation. On a more relatable side of the spectrum, we have heat lamps or small household appliances.

Companies like Hotworx have created full infrared workout concepts. They promote working out in a sauna, all lit and heated by infrared bulbs.

An infrared sauna heats the human body without heating the surrounding air first. JOI Rehab

Infrared Sauna

These gyms boast health benefits such as:

  • Burning up to 600 calories while you relax in an infrared sauna
  • Heating your core to provide a natural detoxifying sweat
  • Relieving everything from minor aches and pains to chronic pain while speeding recovery time
  • Significant stimulation of blood flow up to double the normal rate
  • Lowering blood pressure while improving circulation
  • Stimulating the circulatory system to oxygenate cells and strengthen the immune system
  • Stimulating collagen production to reduce wrinkles

Unfortunately, not all these claims have been validated and are just creative marketing designed to attract health enthusiasts looking for the next best thing in fitness. Particularly, while detoxification through sweating is a large claim these companies make, there is no scientific evidence that infrared light cleanses your body of toxins.

What are the Safety risks of Infrared Workouts?

Although gyms and infrared sauna companies claim that this technology is the new holy grail of fitness, there is a harmful downside. There are risk factors that you need to consider before going into one of these gyms. Depending on your overall health and time spent in these heated gyms, you could be putting yourself at risk for injury or worse.

Gym goers need to be cautious of risks and medical conditions such as:

  • Feeling so relaxed and flexible that you overstretch and strain or tear tissue
  • Losing too many electrolytes and minerals that can be detrimental to tissue
  • Low blood pressure, or hypotension, due to dehydration can lead to shock and become life threatening
  • Light-headedness, which can lead to traumatic brain injury (TBI) if you fall and hit your head
  • Transient leg pain
  • Airway irritation
  • Lowered sperm count and motility with just two 15-minute infrared sauna sessions per week
  • Potential eye irritation or damage from repeated prolonged exposure to near-infrared heat that can cause cataracts or vision loss.
Flyer showing signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. JOI Rehab

Flyer Showing Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can lead to damage to your heart, kidneys, muscles or brain. These conditions can be brought on by dehydration combined with other factors such as:

  • Being over 65 years of age because you have more difficulty regulating your body temperature.
  • Being overweight, which many people join gyms to reverse but need to do so safely.
  • People with heart conditions, can be at higher risk from infrared workouts because combining heat with exercise can place stress on your system and increase your heart rate or result in complications from prescription heart medication.

It is important to consult with your physician prior to starting any fitness program.  This includes Infrared Sauna Workouts.

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Written By: Antonio Sowers PT

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