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Science-Backed Benefits of Heat Therapy: Saunas and Infrared Explained

20 Jun 2023


Let's explore the health benefits and provide you with some valuable tips to make the most of your time and temperature.

Heat therapy is a fantastic method used in spas for relaxation and recovery, but its benefits go beyond just that. It has gained significant popularity for its ability to enhance mood, boost metabolism, and protect against heart disease. There are various types of heat therapy, each with its own advantages.

Improves mood

First off, heat therapy can improve your mood by triggering the release of endorphins in your body. When exposed to high heat, your body perceives it as a stressor, similar to the exhilaration experienced during a "runner's high." Endorphins interact with the opioid receptors in your brain, generating feelings of well-being and relaxation. Additionally, another molecule called dynorphin is released in response to high heat, which eventually leads you to perceive the heat as pain and prompts a desire to escape it. Interestingly, the more dynorphin is released, opioid receptors are created in the body, making it easier for endorphins to bind to these receptors. Consequently, your overall mood improves over time.

A study found that frequent sauna use, particularly 4-7 times per week, was associated with a lower risk of developing psychiatric disorders. Although this evidence is purely correlational, it provides another compelling reason to give heat therapy a try.

Increases metabolism

Heat therapy can increase your metabolism in the long run, similar to cold treatment. By converting white fat cells into beige fat cells, which are more active and energy-consuming, heat therapy helps burn more calories. Switching between cold and hot exposure has shown the highest rates of conversion. A study demonstrated that localized heat applied to the skin at a temperature of 105.8 degrees Fahrenheit increased the overall amount of beige fat systemically. This effect may be due to the release of heat shock factor 1, which interacts with DNA controlling fat and sugar metabolism. However, it's important to note that heat application to a specific body area doesn't enable targeted conversion of white fat to beige fat.

Lowers risk of heart disease

Additionally, heat therapy has been widely recognized for reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. When exposed to high heat, your blood vessels dilate, improving blood flow. Heat therapy has also been found to enhance flow-mediated dilation, a measurement used to assess cardiovascular disease risk. Furthermore, it helps lower blood pressure. A study revealed that individuals who used a sauna 4-7 times per week, for 10-20 minutes each time, at a temperature of 176-212 degrees Fahrenheit, were 50% less likely to die from heart disease and stroke. The statistical analysis even accounted for other variables contributing to heart diseases, such as exercise and smoking.

Types of heat therapy needed for maximum benefits

To maximize the benefits of heat therapy, it's generally recommended to maintain temperatures between 176-212 degrees Fahrenheit when using a sauna, infrared sauna, or steam room. Over time, your body adapts, and longer sessions or higher temperatures may be required. If the temperature feels intolerable or poses a health risk, start at a lower temperature, but keep in mind that you might need to work on heat adaptation.

The greatest results are observed when alternating between hot and cold therapies, such as moving between a hot tub or sauna and a cold tub.

Conclusion

Heat therapy is a fantastic way to enhance your well-being, boost your metabolism, and reduce the risk of heart disease. It's a valuable tool to add to your self-care routine and can contribute to your overall longevity. Remember, consistency in using heat therapy is key, so make it a regular part of your routine. Start slowly, listen to your body, and always consult with your doctor, especially when dealing with high heat.

If you're ready to experience the incredible benefits of heat therapy, we invite you to check out Primal Sauna and Infrared Classes. Primal Sauna offers state-of-the-art facilities and expert guidance to help you optimize your heat therapy experience. Discover the power of heat therapy and take your well-being to the next level. Contact us to learn more about our offerings and start your heat therapy journey today.

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