Is there anything more relaxing than slinking into a sauna after a long workout session or, you know, average stressful day in the office? Well, the traditional sauna may be a beloved locker room staple at health clubs and spas alike, but there’s a new type in town: infrared saunas.
Early adopters of the trend include Jennifer Aniston and Lady Gaga, and now, they’re picking up popularity for allegedly helping with pain management, weight loss and more. They also maintain that these special saunas help with their general “wellness,” leading them to feel better than ever (and something that is no easy feat for researchers to quantify in scientific studies).
Is it a bunch of hot air? The verdict is still out, but fans of the saunas swear by the intense heat. The infrared saunas work like a microwave and heat up your body by moving water molecules in the skin and fat pockets around. Some small studies have shown it may help with diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular issues, among other conditions, according to the Daily Mail.
It’s worth noting, however that Dr. Steve Faulkner, an exercise physiologist at Nottingham Trent University, who researches the effects of heat on the body said in the story that he doesn’t believe that the patients’ improvements are specifically due to the saunas and thinks they’re more likely to be due to the general effects of intense heat.
Until more research is conducted, it’s also tough to say if they really are a boon for weight loss. In fact, the initial weight loss you may see after a sauna is really water weight that you sweat out during your session.
If you have cardiovascular conditions or are a pregnant woman you should definitely avoid saunas. Otherwise, if you’re curious to see if the latest wellness craze works for you, sweat away!