Mike Mutzel, a functional medicine expert, who earned his B.S. in Biology from Western Washington University and completed his M.S. in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport. Recently, Mike was  a guest on The Genius Life podcast, where he chatted with host Max Lugavere about the difference between infrared and traditional saunas, the benefits of the sauna, and how to do heat therapy if you don’t have access to one. 

The Benefits of Sauna Therapy, video credit: High Intensity Health

Infrared saunas vs. traditional saunas:

On the pod, Mutzel noted that the main mechanism of sauna therapy is the heat, thus, both infrared and traditional saunas have great benefits—with the caveat that—in the case of infrared saunas, it may take longer for your body to heat up (requiring more time in the sauna). 

Saunas as social activity:

In Scandanavia, saunas are a part of life. Mutzel noted that, like running, hiking, and working out with friends, saunas are a great activity to do with others that are alcohol and drug-free. If you are looking for non-booze-related activities to do, the sauna is a great way to reap health benefits and develop friendships.

For Metzel, the social aspect of the sauna was one of his biggest motivators for installing one at his house. 

What systems benefit most from sauna therapy?

  • Cardiovascular system;
  • Immune system.

Other sauna benefits:

  • Stress reduction;
  • Sleep enhancement;
  • Detoxification.

Re: detoxification: 

Mutzel added that anything that gets your body temperature up is going to help excrete heavy metals. So if you don’t have access to a sauna, you can get similar benefits from hot yoga, a sweaty workout, or using a sauna blanket. 

Worried about germs or other people’s sweat (in public saunas)?

Fortunately, Mutzel noted, the heat kills the microbes, so “you don’t need to sanitize the sauna, the heat is going to do that for you.”

*Pro tip: Make sure to lift your feet up onto the bench (your feet should be at the level of the heat), so your lower body can all the benefits.