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Sep 11, 2022

I swear by my infrared sauna (In fact, recently my hormones were off due to supply-change issue resulting in a change of the type of estrogen I was given. My skin- breakouts – and water retention were the worst. I used my solo sauna for 14 days in a row and got a lot of relief and quick healing for my stressed skin). Saunas are gold for so many reasons. For more on what exactly they do for you and how to use them, read this post/listen to the episode. 

Benefits of Sauna that I Love

Look, I’ve been a sauna fan since high school when first introduced to one by one of my older siblings or their spouses, I can’t remember which. In high school? It just felt good. I loved the heat and the sweat on a cold day… and the way my skin looked and felt after. Little did I know I would need all of these benefits:

  • Improves Insulin Sensitivity
  • Burns Calories (heat regulation)
  • Improves Heart Rate Variability - This is a measure of recovery I discussed in You Still Got It, Girl!
  • Increases resilience of cells to stressors
  • Increases autophagy -  It’s like benefits of fasting without fasting. But imagine coupling the two.
  • Provides a cardio-like stimulus for the heart (and no, that doesn’t get you off the hook)
  • Increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)

Reasons to Use Infrared Sauna, Specifically | Benefits

  • Heats deep in tissues - It’s an inside out kind of heat, not like lying in the sun or a steam room heating you from the outside.
  • Helps eliminate toxins - We store toxins in our bodies (specifically fat, making it hard to lose fat) so this release supports the release of fat. Exposure or consumption of heavy metals, PBCs, phthalates, flame retardants, pesticides, for example, get stored in fat by your body to attempt to protect and remove them from circulation.
  • Boosts nitric oxide- You’re going to hear more about this. It’s something that dilates blood vessels.
  • Provides rest/relaxation - While in the sauna in the late afternoon/evening I can power nap for 10 minutes. In addition though, I also sleep so soundly and am ready for bed that night in the most optimal way.
  • Supports immune function. - ‘Nuff said about our desire for this one, right? It does this by mimicking a fever. That’s how your body deals with infection. With sauna you’re giving it a small dose so each time you have a boost in your immune system.

Here’s How I Use My Infrared Sauna

  • I like to do about 30 or 35 minutes regularly.
  • What’s regularly? That’s about 3-7 days a week depending on my schedule and of course traveling throws that off. But when I am suffering from something – like right now, my estrogen levels have gone haywire due to a supply chain issue with the BHRT I was using. I’m using it every day for 14 days since – did you know? Throwing off hormone balance throws off fluid retention. It’s one of the signs I first noticed in 2019 when I finally cried uncle and said, I can’t flip this switch alone.
  • Of all the reasons to use infrared sauna, I prefer the ones that are “extra.” You know, like better recovery, better skin, faster healing, boosted immune system. But, I’ll admit when I really NEED a benefit, I’m a lot more consistent. (Like this little 14-day sprint I did. And it would have been a longer streak but I left for a trip at that point).
  • I start at lower temps if it’s been a while. Using my Solo Sauna I use the settings and keep it at 5 to begin. I build up so I’m usually at 7 or 8 for slightly longer periods of time.
  • I make sure before the sauna I’m well hydrated, with some high-quality salt or electrolytes and consume more water and salt afterwards as well.
  • For travel to Cozumel Ironman (twice since I’ve had my sauna) since I lived in hot dry climates, the training there wasn’t much support. So, I would sauna after exercise when possible and try to stay in 20-30 minutes. Definitely add electrolytes and extra salt (your body doesn’t lose just water! Even if you’re not training for an Ironman). I did about 14 sessions in the few weeks leading up to the race. So, my body was ready, and I had some idea of how to monitor my sodium needs.

What did that do for me?

Helped me to keep my heart rate lower comparatively than had I not done it. It also supports blood volume and red blood count (helpful to deliver more oxygen to working muscles). Ideally it helped me keep cooler during competition because my body was used to it. Overheating is a real concern when you’re in heat and humidity exerting yourself. When you do so for up to 17 hours, you want to take all precautions!

BUT… you don’t have to be doing an endurance competition or traveling to a hot humid environment to benefit from infrared sauna. And start with any sauna you have access to, they’re all beneficial, infrared just more so.

Here’s what sauna can do for you:

Increase oxygenation and sweat rate.

Why it’s good: Early onset of sweat means you’re able to cool yourself better. In a humid environment that gets a little tricky because if the air is saturated it doesn’t evaporate from your skin and cool you, but it still allows you to lose heat from your body. The increased oxygenation means that your working muscles get more oxygen to perform better.

In addition to the internal benefits for longevity you may not “see” right away, these two will make exercise feel better and be more effective for you.

Longevity benefits of sauna 

A frequent use of sauna is associated with lower risk of dementia, hypertension, heart disease. Now, who knows, it’s very likely people who use saunas overall have healthier lifestyles than those who don’t. So, it’s hard to tell specifically what habit was most related.

But as a 38-year fitness professional, and at that point 13 years in perimenopause as an endurance athlete, it does make a difference.

I moved a few months ago. I just unpacked my sauna again yesterday because of this new-found need and I’m using it for 14 days. But after even just three sweat sessions in a row.. I sweat out pools of retained water and slept longer and deeper than I (already a good sleeper) normally do. And my skin seems to be calming down too.

What about you? Do you sauna? I’d love to know the reasons you use infrared sauna, or why possibly you started to and then actually still do!

Links to the Sauna I have at Home:

(FREE SHIPPING in September)My Sunlighten Solo SAUNA

Built-In models friends and family members enjoy

By the way, FREE shipping in September (that's a big plus!) 

Links to previous posts & Flipping 50 episodes about Sauna:

Improve Fitness without a Workout:

Hype or Hip: Sauna Benefits During Menopause: