Comparing Infrared vs. Traditional saunas pits two relaxing heat therapy options against each other.
So which sauna is best for your home or business? That depends on your exact sauna requirements.
In this article, we analyzed infrared saunas and traditional saunas, looking at essential features such as cost, health benefits, drawbacks, ease of use, and safety considerations.
What is a traditional sauna?
Traditional saunas are also known as Finnish saunas and have been around for centuries. They are typically made of wood and use electric or wood-fired heaters to heat the air inside the room.
The temperature in a traditional sauna can reach up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is controlled by adding water to the hot rocks on the heater.
This heat can be intense, but it doesn't penetrate as deeply into your body as the heat from an infrared sauna.
What is an infrared sauna?
Unlike traditional saunas, which heat the air around you, infrared saunas use a specific type of light to heat your body from the inside out.
They operate at a lower temperature, usually between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The heat from infrared heaters penetrates the skin more deeply than a traditional sauna, which can help increase the sauna's benefits.
While further research is needed to understand the mechanisms behind these benefits fully, the evidence suggests that infrared saunas can be a valuable addition to a health and wellness routine.
Infrared vs. traditional sauna: How do they work?
Traditional saunas use convection and conduction to heat the body.
The hot air and rocks inside the sauna create an environment that makes you sweat.
Infrared saunas, on the other hand, use radiant heat to penetrate your skin and heat your body directly.
This makes you sweat more profusely in an infrared sauna, even though the air temperature is lower.
Health benefits of traditional saunas
In recent years, significant research has been conducted into traditional saunas' health benefits and risks.
We will delve into the findings of various studies examining the effects of sauna usage on cardiovascular disease, muscle atrophy, chronic illness, and more.
Reduced Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death and Cardiovascular Disease
One of the most significant benefits of regular sauna usage is the reduced risk of sudden cardiac death.
Studies show that individuals who use the sauna at least once a week have a lower risk of sudden cardiac death.
Additionally, the more frequently a person uses the sauna, the lower their risk of cardiovascular disease becomes.
This reduction is more pronounced when the sauna bathing is combined with exercise.
The heat stress from sauna sessions has been found to reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness, potentially decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
These benefits are more pronounced in individuals with low cardiovascular function.
Evidence also supports the benefits of sauna usage for individuals with heart failure.
Sauna usage four to seven times per week is associated with a decreased risk of neurovascular diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and stroke.
Muscle Atrophy, Chronic Illness, and Weight Loss
Sauna bathing leads to mild heat stress, which activates heat shock proteins responsible for repairing misfolded proteins.
This promotes longevity and protection against muscle atrophy and chronic illness. Individuals with musculoskeletal disorders may experience symptomatic improvement from sauna usage.
Sauna usage may also benefit weight loss in obese individuals and improve appetite loss in those with average body weight. However, more research is needed to support these claims.
Mental Well-Being and Sauna Use
In a 2019 scientific survey, it was found that most people use both infrared and traditional saunas for relaxation, and its use, 5 to 15 times per month, was associated with higher mental well-being.
Health benefits of infrared saunas
Due to the difference in heating method, infrared saunas have some distinct health benefits when compared to traditional sauna including:
One of the most significant benefits of infrared saunas is their ability to support detoxification.
Sweating is the body's natural mechanism for eliminating toxins, and infrared saunas can induce a deeper sweat than other saunas.
Research has shown that sweating in an infrared sauna can help eliminate heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants, and other toxins from the body.
Infrared saunas can also be effective in reducing pain and inflammation.
The deep heat generated by infrared saunas can penetrate the muscles and joints, promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension.
In addition, the increased blood flow to the affected areas can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
There is also some evidence to suggest that regular use of infrared saunas can improve cardiovascular health.
Research has shown that using an infrared sauna can improve blood pressure, increase blood flow, and improve endothelial function.
These benefits can help reduce the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions.
Comparing the Benefits of Infrared and Traditional Saunas
While both types of saunas offer many potential benefits, there are differences in the specific advantages each can provide.
Here are a few key factors to consider:
Heat intensity: A traditional sauna may be the better choice if you prefer a more intense, sweat-inducing experience. However, if you find the high temperatures of traditional saunas uncomfortable, you may prefer the gentler heat of an infrared sauna.
Deep tissue penetration: If you're looking for a sauna that can penetrate more deeply into your muscles and tissues, an infrared sauna may be the way to go. The heat from these saunas can reach up to 3 inches into your body, whereas traditional saunas tend to stay closer to the surface of your skin.
Cardiovascular benefits: While both saunas can help improve circulation and support heart health, infrared saunas may have a slight edge. Some studies have suggested that they can reduce blood pressure and improve other markers of cardiovascular health.
Detoxification: Both types of saunas can help flush out toxins and support the immune system, but infrared saunas may be more effective due to their ability to penetrate more deeply into the body.
Pain relief: If you're dealing with chronic pain or stiffness, both saunas may offer some relief. However, some research has suggested that infrared saunas may be especially helpful for arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Drawbacks of traditional saunas
Traditional saunas can be uncomfortable for some people, especially those sensitive to high temperatures.
Some people find breathing difficult in such a hot, dry environment difficult.
They can also cause dehydration, which is dangerous for people with certain medical conditions.
Additionally, traditional saunas can take longer to heat up and require more maintenance than infrared saunas.
Drawbacks of infrared saunas
While infrared saunas are generally considered safe, they have some potential drawbacks.
One of the significant drawbacks of infrared saunas is that they can be more expensive than traditional saunas.
They also require a power source, which means you need access to an electrical outlet.
Additionally, infrared saunas can cause dehydration, just like traditional saunas.
Some may find that the lower heat of infrared saunas provides a different level of relaxation than traditional dry saunas.
Lower heat may be less effective for opening airways and improving circulation.
Sauna Safety Considerations
While saunas can offer many potential health benefits, it's essential to use them safely to avoid potential risks.
Here are a few key safety considerations to keep in mind:
Hydration: It's essential to stay hydrated when using a sauna, as the heat can cause you to sweat and lose fluids more quickly. Make sure to drink plenty of water before and after your sauna session.
Duration and frequency: It's generally recommended to start with shorter sauna sessions and gradually build up over time, especially if you're new to sauna use. Most people can safely enjoy a sauna for up to 20-30 minutes at a time, and it's usually safe to use it 1-3 times per week.
Medical conditions: If you have any medical conditions or take medications, you should check with your doctor before using a sauna. Some conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, may require special precautions or limitations.
Pregnancy: Sauna use is generally not recommended during pregnancy, as high temperatures can harm the developing fetus.
Children: It's usually not recommended for children under 12 to use saunas, as their bodies may not be able to regulate their temperature as well as adults.
Infrared vs traditional sauna: Which one is right for you?
The answer to this question depends on your personal preferences and health goals.
A traditional sauna might be right for you if you prefer higher temperatures and don't mind the dry air.
On the other hand, if you prefer a lower temperature and want to experience deeper relaxation and detoxification, an infrared sauna might be a better choice.
Additionally, if you have certain medical conditions that prevent you from tolerating high temperatures, an infrared sauna might be a safer option.
What to Look for When Purchasing an Infrared Sauna
When purchasing an infrared sauna, there are a few key things to look for to ensure that you are getting a high-quality product:
Type of Heater: The type of heater used in the sauna can greatly impact its performance. Look for saunas that use high-quality, low-EMF heaters for the best results.
Size: Consider the size of the sauna to ensure that it will fit in the space you have available. It's also important to consider the number of people using the sauna simultaneously.
Construction: Look for saunas made from high-quality materials and sturdy construction for maximum durability.
Safety Features: Look for saunas with automatic shut-off and overheat protection to ensure that you can use the sauna safely.
What to Look for When Purchasing an Traditional Sauna
Heater Type: Traditional saunas use with a wood-fired or electrical heater to heat the air in the sauna. Wood-fired sauna do not need an electrical connection and are better for outdoor saunas as they get much hotter and can withstand cooler climates. Electric heaters on the other hand are easier to operate and can be controlled remotely.
Size: Consider the size of your sauna and the size of heater needed as the larger the cubic area needed to be heated the larger heater is required.
Material: Another important factor is the material your sauna is made from. Especially if your sauna is placed outside it is critical you pick a material and wood type that will withstand its environment and last for years to come.
In conclusion, both infrared and traditional saunas offer numerous health benefits, and choosing between the two comes down to personal preference.
While traditional saunas are known for their high temperatures and steam, infrared saunas provide a deeper, more intense sweat with lower temperatures.
Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on your personal preferences and health goals.
Q: What type of sauna is healthiest?A: Both Traditional and infrared saunas offer a multitude of health benefits. Most studies on the benefits of sauna usage focused on traditional Finnish saunas, but there is now increasing research on the health benefits of infrared saunas.
Q: What are the cons of an Infrared Sauna?A: One of the biggest cons of an infrared sauna is that they are typically more expensive than traditional saunas, and the air does not get as hot as in traditional saunas.
Q: Is the Infrared Sauna a gimmick?A: Infrared saunas offer many health benefits, including detoxification, improved skin, potential weight loss, and reduced inflammation. More research needs to be done, but the evidence for such benefits is promising.
Q: Can an infrared sauna burn belly fat?A: Yes, infrared saunas burn an average of 600 calories an hour, meaning just 3 sauna sessions a week help you quickly burn more belly fat and lose weight.
Q: How long should I spend in a sauna?
A: The recommended time for sauna sessions varies depending on the individual and the type of sauna. In general, 10 to 20 minutes is a good starting point, and you can gradually increase the time as you get used to the heat.
Q: Are saunas safe for everyone?
A: Saunas can be safe for most people, but they may not be suitable for those with certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or pregnancy. It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using a sauna, especially if you have any health concerns.
Q: Can saunas help with weight loss?
A: Saunas can help with weight loss to some extent by increasing your metabolic rate and promoting sweating, which can lead to some water weight loss. However, saunas are not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise.
More From the Sauna Blog: