If you follow celebrities like Busy Philipps on Instagram, then you may have already heard about the latest red-hot wellness trend: infrared saunas. Celebs have been posting sweaty selfies from under crimson colored lights to extol the virtues of sitting in the wood-lined rooms. So we asked health and wellness experts to weigh in on why sitting in an infrared sauna can be good for you, and if a visit is worth your sweat equity.
Infrared saunas use the light from infrared rays to warm your body from the inside out. The small room gets hot, but the heat is moderate enough that you can comfortably stay inside the sauna for up to 45 minutes.
The longer you can last, the more you’ll soak up the sauna’s benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, people suffering from issues such as congestive heart failure and rheumatoid arthritis have found infrared saunas to be helpful in their treatments. Another study published by the National Center for Biotechnology found that participants who spent fifteen minutes a day for two weeks in an infrared sauna saw an impressive drop in their blood pressure.
The light-filled sauna can also help with everyday issues, too. According to Katie Kaps, the co-founder of Higher Dose, a boutique sauna spa in New York City, clients visit the sauna to detox, relax and burn calories. “You burn up to 600 calories per session,” she says. “It’s like a workout, without working out.” Skin improvement is also another bonus from regular visits to the sauna. “It increases blood flow and boosts collagen, which leaves you with a healthy glow,” Kaps adds. Many of the saunas also feature chromotherapy therapy, where you can choose a hue based on what outcome you’re hoping to achieve during the session. Red, for example, is said to give you energy; yellow is supposed to inspire creativity.
Businesses like Higher Dose are popping up around the country, and at-home saunas are becoming top sellers at places like Home Depot and Amazon. Kaps says popularity is growing because it’s easy to get hooked on the treatment after one visit. “Most people are amazed at how much better they immediately feel,” she says. “You can go in the sauna feeling crabby or stressed and come out feeling like a new person and ready to take on your day!”
If you want to give it a try, here are some other top infrared “hotspots” worth checking out:
Boston: Cabral Wellness Institite [ http://cabralwellnessinstitute.com/infrared-sauna-boston
Chicago: Allyu Spa
Dallas: Skin Body Soul
Los Angeles: Shape House
Seattle: City Sweats
Kevin Aeh is a New York City-based writer and editor. He has written for Time Out New York, Refinery29, New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, Furthermore from Equinox and more.