On the Covet List: Infrared Saunas

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It may seem a bit trendy and new-agey, but it’s hard to ignore the hype infrared saunas have been getting over the last year or so. Everyone from doctors to naturopaths to the true sage on health, Oprah, have been talking about infrared saunas and their benefits. With the reasons to get one flooding in (everything from weight loss to better circulation to improved skin to pain reduction – although we probably sold a few of you with just the mention of weight loss), we figured it was time to explore what was available in the market.

That led us to Far Infrared Sauna Products from Sunlighten – and the options are impressive! What is an infrared sauna, exactly? To quote Wikipedia, “an infrared sauna uses infrared heaters to emit infrared radiant heat which is absorbed directly into the human body, unlike traditional saunas which heat the body indirectly via air or steam.” That sounds a little freaky until one realizes that infrared heat is just a level on the light spectrum that we actually encounter every day. It’s basically like sitting in the sun but the ultraviolet (UV) rays are eliminated. Feel better?

The beneficial claims are as such (and we’re not doctors or Oprah, so it’s really best you look into these yourself!): As you experience the heat from the infrared sauna, the body’s temperature increases – putting the body into a mode where it’s trying to cool down. When this occurs, blood pressure lowers and blood circulation increases. Your heart will also beat a little faster, which burns calories and raises metabolism. And because you’re sweating, your body will also start releasing toxins through the skin. This all occurs in a temperature that is lower than a traditional sauna and without steam – which can make breathing easier than the alternative. To be clear, infrared saunas are NOT for everyone. Certain medical conditions may require you to see a doctor before getting the OK to use one, so please do your own research before plunking down any cash!

Infrared saunas are available in several different forms – indoor, outdoor and portable. From there, you can go from a very simple one-person sauna to a six-person “luxury” unit with an LCD interface that pipes in therapeutic sounds (or your MP3 playlist) while measuring your biometrics (like your heart rate and the amount of calories burned while in the sauna).  Crazy, huh?

Because water and steam are not used for this system, you don’t have to worry about installing your sauna where plumbing is available – you generally just need access to space and an electrical outlet (often no more than a dedicated 120V 20A circuit and outlet are required). Many of the infrared saunas available can be installed by the homeowner, but installation services are available. A while back we talked about basement makeovers – wouldn’t an infrared sauna make a sweet little addition (even if you’ve already built that dream bar)?

The simplest of infrared saunas will set you back about $1200. From there, they go up to about $5000 as more bells and whistles are added on. That said, it’s best to contact companies like Sunlighten directly and see what kind of deals can be swung your way.

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About Jen

Jen (but never “Jenn”) Byck, aka the Fix'n Vixen, is a Toronto-based freelance writer and communication consultant who is undoubtedly home fixated (she is also TV fixated, really bad TV fixated and donut fixated). Her approach to home improvement has been rather trial and error, the latter of which is evidenced by the amount of spackle she buys on an annual basis.

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