infrared sauna or traditional sauna - which is better

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When comparing infrared saunas to traditional saunas, several factors need to be considered based on the discussions among experts on the .

Infrared Saunas

  • Temperature and Duration: Infrared saunas typically reach around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, while traditional saunas operate at higher temperatures, around 174 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the lower temperature, you need to stay in an infrared sauna longer to achieve similar benefits. An example is "Weyon therapy," where individuals spend extended periods (about an hour) in an infrared sauna, sometimes wrapped in towels afterward, to maintain warmth and maximize benefits 1.
  • Mechanism: Infrared saunas use thermal radiation to heat the body directly rather than heating the air around you. This can still induce significant sweating, which helps in the excretion of heavy metals like cadmium, lead, and aluminum 1.

Traditional Saunas

  • Heat Stress Benefits: Most of the research supports the benefits of traditional saunas due to heat stress, which elevates heart rate and blood pressure, mimicking moderate exercise effects such as improved cardiovascular health and reduced mortality rates from cardiovascular events 2 3.

    Sauna Benefits

    Rhonda and Andrew discuss the benefits of saunas, specifically the differences between infrared and regular saunas, the importance of heat stress, and how sweating can help excrete heavy metals. They also touch on the benefits of hot baths as an alternative modality for heat stress.

    Huberman Lab

    Dr. Rhonda Patrick: Micronutrients for Health & Longevity | Huberman Lab Podcast #70
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  • Temperature Range: Traditional saunas generally operate between 176 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit (80-100 degrees Celsius). This temperature range is more effective for promoting the release of growth hormone and heat shock proteins essential for various health benefits, including cardiovascular and longevity improvements 3 4.

Preferences and Synergies

  • Cost and Safety: Infrared saunas are typically more affordable and pose less of a fire hazard, making them accessible for home use. However, they might not get hot enough to activate some of the significant benefits noted in higher temperature saunas 1.
  • Sauna Use Frequency: Regular exposure to traditional saunas (two to three times per week) has been linked to significant health benefits, such as a reduced risk of cardiovascular events and improved overall health and longevity 2.

Conclusion

While both types of saunas offer health benefits, traditional saunas seem to have more robust and well-documented effects due to their higher temperature range and resulting heat stress. However, for individuals seeking a more accessible and safer option with benefits, infrared saunas are still a viable choice. You might choose one over the other based on your specific health goals, budget, and safety considerations.

For specific protocols and benefits of sauna use, consulting relevant studies and considering personal health status is recommended.

RELATED QUESTIONS

Are there any studies comparing infrared and traditional saunas?

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There are indeed studies comparing the benefits of infrared and traditional saunas discussed on the .

Traditional Saunas

  1. Frequency and Duration: Regular use of traditional saunas has been shown to reduce cardiovascular events and mortality. In one study, participants who used a sauna 2-3 times per week were 27% less likely to die from cardiovascular events compared to those who used it only once a week. Those who used it 4-7 times per week had a 50% reduction 1.
  2. Heat Stress: Traditional saunas operate at higher temperatures (176-212°F) compared to infrared saunas, maximally stressing the cardiovascular system in a manner similar to moderate-intensity exercise, improving heart rate and blood pressure 2.

Infrared Saunas

  1. Lower Temperature, Longer Duration: Infrared saunas typically reach about 140°F, and because of this lower temperature, users need to stay in for longer periods. Some protocols recommend staying for an hour, often combined with a wrapping in towels post-session to retain warmth 3.

    Sauna Benefits

    Andrew discusses the benefits of sauna exposure, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. Studies have shown that regular exposure to sauna at temperatures between 80-100 degrees Celsius for 10-20 minutes, 2-7 times per week, can greatly improve longevity.

    Huberman Lab

    The Science & Health Benefits of Deliberate Heat Exposure | Huberman Lab Podcast #69
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  2. Heavy Metal Excretion: Despite the lower temperature, infrared saunas still induce significant sweating, facilitating the excretion of heavy metals like cadmium, lead, and aluminum via sweat 3.

Mixed Studies

  1. Efficacy of Both Types: Some studies from Japan using infrared saunas, such as "Weyon therapy," have shown improvements in coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions, suggesting benefit from both types of saunas 3.
  2. Combination: Integration of sauna use with exercise is beneficial. Cardiorespiratory fitness improves more in people who combine exercise with sauna usage compared to those who only do one of these activities 2.

In summary, while traditional saunas have more robust data supporting their use due to higher temperature-induced heat stress, infrared saunas offer significant benefits, especially for those who may not tolerate the high heat of traditional saunas. The choice can be based on individual tolerance and health goals, and combining sauna use with regular exercise can amplify the health benefits.

RELATED QUESTIONS

How often should saunas be used?

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Using a sauna two to three times per week can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by 27%. When increased to four to seven times per week, the risk is reduced by 50% for cardiovascular-related mortality and other health issues 1. These studies often used sauna sessions lasting between 5-20 minutes at temperatures ranging from 176 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit 1 2.

For dementia and Alzheimer’s risk, using a sauna four times per week reduces the risk by over 60%, whereas two to three times weekly reduces the risk by approximately 20% 3.

Sauna Benefits

Andrew discusses the benefits of sauna exposure, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. Studies have shown that regular exposure to sauna at temperatures between 80-100 degrees Celsius for 10-20 minutes, 2-7 times per week, can greatly improve longevity.

Huberman Lab

The Science & Health Benefits of Deliberate Heat Exposure | Huberman Lab Podcast #69
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For general health benefits, including mental health, recommends three sessions per week, totaling about one hour in a sauna set at 176-212 degrees Fahrenheit. The mental benefits of sauna use, such as increased dynorphine, which subsequently enhances endorphin effects, typically require some level of discomfort during the sessions 2.

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