Infrared Sauna Therapy Benefits for Runners and Athletes of All Kinds

This February my husband and I decided to purchase an infrared sauna. Just a little background, before we built our home we discussed wanting to put a hot tub on our patio in the backyard for a way to relax. After really digging deeper, we just saw a lot of negatives with owning a hot tub. With it being so unbelievably cold here right now, the idea of getting in something warm and relaxing was still on our minds.

I did some research on infrared saunas and found a ton of health benefits, including some that could potentially assist in athletic performance and recovery. I was sold! Who wouldn’t want that? And it didn’t take much convincing to get my husband on board, especially after seeing how much less it would cost verses the hot tub.

I’m usually the one to be the product researcher, but he took the reins here when it came to finding the actual brand we bought. The one we ended up getting is the JNH Lifestyles Joyous two person infrared sauna, which we purchased directly from the company’s website. It is also available on Amazon, but the price was better direct. It had great reviews, and we liked that all the additional options are things we can add at a later date if we choose to. We did end up adding the oxygen ionizer to our original order, but are considering the back support pieces. This unit has a small light on the back wall (it’s shown in the photo below, however when I use it I generally keep it off). You may add chromotherapy lights if you wish. It also has a sound system hook up, which I honestly don’t understand because it’s not recommended to have electronics in temperatures that high. I haven’t really looked into this feature much but maybe there’s a way it’s protected? I’m not sure, but I enjoy my time away from all distractions in there so sitting in the peace and quiet is fine with me.

jnhlifestylesjoyous2personsauna.jpg

It ships via a freight company. You receive a phone call to schedule delivery, which is great because you’ll need an extra set of hands as the boxes are roughly 100 lbs. a piece (we had 3 huge boxes plus a tiny one with the oxygen ionizer). We paid to have it unloaded, and the guy was nice enough to set it in our garage instead of the end of our driveway.

It goes together very easily, with some easy to use latches that hold the walls together. This also means it’s simple to take apart if you should ever need to move the unit. My husband had me hold a wall in place to get everything lined up, but it went together very easily and you only need a screwdriver for a few things.

I’ll keep the technical jargon off of here, but if you’re interested in how these work you can read more on the manufacturers website HERE.

Some health benefits of infrared sauna sessions:

  • Increased athletic endurance (‘hyperthermic conditioning’) due to increase in blood volume and blood flow to the heart (4) — sign me up!
  • Growth of new brain cells (1) — who wouldn’t appreciate that?!
  • Heat acclimation (2) — great if you’re running a race in a warmer climate than you train in. (Oh hi, Nashville! 👊)
  • Decreased oxidative stress. (3) — This is so important for overall health, and a great way to combat the oxidative stress that develops from exercise over 60 minutes. So hit the sauna after that long workout!
  • Can improve mood and and reduce levels of anxiety and depression. (5) — Always a good thing!
  • Can benefit athletes in the workout recovery process (6) — YES!

Some tips and things to keep in mind:

  • The only pitfall is that it’s a very drying environment. So, keeping your hair up in a towel and moisturizing your skin after your post sauna shower is a good idea. I didn’t even think about this the first few times I was in there (as seen below), but have since started wrapping my hair up while in there and always moisturizing after showering.

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  • It’s recommended that you’re well hydrated prior to using the sauna, and rehydrate after each session as well. When I first started using it, I was bringing in plenty of water with me (again, see photo above). Since I generally use it after a workout, I figured it would be a good idea even though I try my best to stay hydrated during my workouts too. However, I quickly learned it very much delayed sweating (all the more reason to wear a hydration pack for hot races to keep your body cool consistently!). So, I’ve since stopped drinking during each session and just focus on pre/post hydration as they recommend.
  • They also suggest putting a towel down on the floor and the seat prior to your session to protect the unit, and removing them after. After turning it off, you leave the door cracked to properly cool the unit down.
  • Remember to remove any tight fitting jewelry, like rings, since you swell a bit in the heat.
  • It’s best to remove watches and don’t bring electronics like a cell phone or iPad in with you as they aren’t made to withstand those high temperatures.
  • Keep an eye on the screws on the heating panels. They may come loose over time with the temperature changes and may need to be adjusted occasionally.

I’m shocked at how people are so different when it comes to handling the heat. I thought my husband and I would be using it together in the evenings, but I prefer it cranked up to 140 degrees, where as he prefers low 120’s. They suggest you start at a lower temperature and shorter session for your first time, and let your body acclimate. My first time I kept it at 120 degrees for 20 minutes and was more than ok with it, so I bumped it to 130 the second time and stayed in there for 30 minutes. The third time I started it at 130 and ended at 140 and was in there for about 35 minutes. Now, most of my sessions are at 140 degrees for 35-45 minutes. It’s not recommended to surpass an hour. Our unit has a 59 minute timer on it and you can set it and adjust it while in there too. When and at what temperature you start to sweat will widely vary person to person. I’m hoping the fact that I prefer the highest heat setting means I’m well heat acclimated and if it’s another hot day in Nashville for the half I’ll be able to power through no problem. (I can only hope! haha)

*March update: we both have acclimated to it a bit more and have been occasionally using it together at night in the 130’s. We call it our conversation hot box 😂! I’m now sweating much earlier than I was, and he can handle higher heat.

I literally get a little sad when I look up at the control panel and see only a few minutes left! I absolutely love this unit and would highly recommend it to anyone looking at adding one to their home.

If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment!


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