Harvard Men’s Health Watch answers: Are saunas healthy or harmful? Call for friendly advise on 021 5567203
A saunas’ dry heat (which can get as high as 185° F 85 degrees Celsius) has profound effects on the body. Skin temperature soars to about 104° F ( 40 degrees Celsius) within minutes. The average person will pour out a pint of sweat during a short stint in a sauna. The pulse rate jumps by 30% or more, allowing the heart to nearly double the amount of blood it pumps each minute. Most of the extra blood flow is directed to the skin; in fact, the circulation actually shunts blood away from the internal organs. Blood pressure is unpredictable, rising in some people but falling in others.
What is the theory behind these far infrared saunas?
Far infrared sauna therapy is said to duplicate the healthy frequencies of our own cells. The tissues are purported to selectively absorb these rays as the water in the cell reacts in a process called “resonant absorption”.
This resonant absorption is said to occur when the frequency of the far infrared matches the frequency of the water in the cell. This causes toxins from the cells to be put out into the blood stream and excreted in sweat, feces, and urine.
Proponents of this therapy state that our tissues which are undergoing the healing process may need a boost of infrared to ensure the fullest healing response.
Far infrared is claimed to penetrate the body’s tissues to a depth of 40mm.
Due to the deep penetration of infrared rays, a heating effect is observed deep in the muscular tissues and even into the internal organs.
This “deep heating,” along with sweating, is thought to be responsible for the healing effects and the other health benefits associated with these infrared rays.
FAR INFRARED VS CONVENTIONAL SAUNAS
A conventional sauna must rely only on indirect means of heat: first, on convection (air currents) and then, conduction (direct contact of hot air with the skin) to produce its heating effect on us. In a far infrared sauna, less than 20% of the infrared energy heats the air, leaving over 80% available to be directly converted to heat within our bodies. Thus an infrared sauna can warm its user to a much greater depth and much more efficiently than a conventional sauna. This crucial difference explains many of the unprecedented health benefits reported to be available through a far infrared sauna that are not attainable through a conventional sauna.
The infrared energy applied in Soft Heat™ may induce up to 2 – 3 times the sweat volume of a conventional sauna. The surrounding air temperature is typically between 115 and 135 degrees F vs. 180 to 235 degrees F in a conventional sauna. The lower heat range is also safer for those concerned about cardiovascular risk factors that might be encountered in old-style hot-air saunas.
What is far infrared and how does it work?
Infrared waves are part of the invisible Electromagnetic Spectrum (EM). The electromagnetic spectrum is divided into three segments by wavelength, measured in microns or micrometers (a micron = 1/1,000,000 of a meter): 0.076 to 1.5 microns = near or close; 1.5 to 5.6 microns = middle or intermediate; 5.6 to 1,000 microns = far or long wave infrared. The far-infrared segment of the electromagnetic spectrum occurs just below, or “infra” to red light as the next lowest energy band. This band of light is not visible to human eyes but we can, however, feel this type of light, which we perceive as heat.
Human bodies send and receive far-infrared waves. The range of far-infrared waves generated by our bodies is 6 to 20 microns. The optimal micron output range is between 7 and 14 microns. This range, sometimes called the “Vital Range,” appears to have regenerative effects on our bodies.
He suggests that sauna users follow these simple precautions:
Avoid alcohol and medications that may impair sweating and produce overheating before and after your sauna.
Stay in no more than 15–20 minutes.
Cool down gradually afterward.
Drink two to four glasses of cool water after each sauna.
Don’t take a sauna when you are ill, and if you feel unwell during your sauna, head for the door.
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