Aug 30, 2017

Wellness Wednesday: Infrared Sauna

Self-care and overall wellness has been extremely important to me over the last year or so. Maybe it's because I'm getting older or because I recognize the positive effects it has on my body as well as my mind—either way I've been enjoying the adventure of trying new things. Lately, I've become hooked on an infrared sauna studio, Sisu Sauna, here in downtown Chattanooga.

Infrared sauna pod in a private room
Temperatures can be set from 110-150 degrees Fahrenheit
An infrared sauna pod is like a dry heat, so nothing like those steam, sauna rooms that were really popular in the 90s. The infrared heat doesn't just heat the surface of your skin, but it actually penetrates below skin level to help detox your body, helps soothe achy muscles, lowers cortisol levels and instills a relaxed feeling, stimulates the circulatory system oxygenates cells, it purifies the skin, stimulates collagen, reduces wrinkles, and improves overall skin tone.

On top of that, the heat causes your body to sweat, which in turn speeds up your heart rate as your body works hard to cool itself off. Between the sweating and the elevated heart rate, it's possible to burn about 600 calories in an hour. The sauna studio has you in the sauna pod for 30 minutes, so I burn close to 300 calories during one session.
A cold room, which is set to 34 degrees Fahrenheit is a great place to go after the sauna
The first 10 minutes aren't bad, but I'll tell you, as soon as you hit that 10 minute mark, you start to get warm and sweat starts pooling and running off your body in large quantities. I was shocked how much perspiration there was about 15 minutes into my first session. The biggest challenge is to make sure you drink more than enough water beforehand and replenish as soon as you get out of the sauna.

I truly thought the heat and the sweating, especially on my face and my arms would bother me, but a relaxing, almost zen-like feeling set in and I was able to zone out a bit and not think about it. The first visit I sweat out almost 2 pounds of water weight—they have a scale near the cold room (pictured above) so you can weigh yourself before and after your session. I was honestly shocked it was close to 2 pounds.
You sit until your feet get cold, which is the signal you're done in the cold room and your pores have closed back up
After the sauna session, there is an option to either jump into the cold plunge pool, which usually has large blocks of ice floating in the pool to keep the water between 45-55 degrees. There is also a cold room, which is set to 34 degrees. Both options come with the session, so I just picked the one I preferred to do.

When the timer went off, I wrapped up in my towel and headed to the cold room. At first I didn't think I'd like it and I didn't know how I'd sit in there for the recommended 15 minutes or until my feet started to get cold (a signal that your body has cooled back off). It was so refreshing to sit there after the endless sweating in the sauna.

The cold room has two stalls built out and they keep herb infused water, cold stainless steel cups and cold washcloths in the room to help begin cooling the body.

When my time in the cold room was up, my heart rate had returned to normal, I was no longer hot and sweaty and I didn't even feel sticky or gross. I felt completely relaxed and restored—both physically and mentally.

4 Tips to Prepare for Your First Sauna Visit

  1. Drink a lot of water before you go. Take water with you and begin drinking immediately again once you get out of the sauna.
  2. Take a pre-sauna shower or at least remove your makeup with a makeup wipe and avoid body lotion beforehand. This way, your makeup won't seep into pores while they are open during your sweat session and your body won't feel slick when sweat and lotions start to mix on the skin's surface.
  3. Know what you'll wear, or not wear. If the sauna will have you in a private room, you might as well go without the clothes. That way, you don't have sweat drenched clothing clinging to your skin when you get out. If the sauna is a cabin for multiple people, maybe wrap in a bath towel.
  4. Go in with an open mind. If you're like me and hate the feeling of sweat, you might just surprise yourself like I did and really enjoy it.

Sisu Sauna, Chattanooga, TN—Southside
What do you do to take care of yourself and practice some self-care?

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