You may have read all about how sitting in an ice pool or standing under a freezing cold shower will keep you looking young and sparky. Well did you know that heat therapy can have a similar effect? In fact scientists say heating up your body will help you age better. And who doesn’t want to look great while you live longer?
Aging is inevitable
The fact is we’re all going to age. It is how we age that counts. As we age molecular damage occurs which impacts the body’s ability to maintain and repair cells. This in turn results in the onset of age-related diseases. Various experimental studies over many years have shown we can influence the way we age. One of the ways to do this, is to use repetitive mild stress. Scientists call this hormesis.
What is hormesis?
Hormesis is the scientific word used to describe a biological molecular phenomenon that occurs in your body when exposed to mild stress. Scientists like Suresh Rattan have dedicated a lifetime of work to studying the hormetic effect on aging. Several other studies have been published showing how it influences the aging process.
Heat therapy creates an hormetic effect. Another acute stressors is exercise. When you combine heat and exercise, you can boost the effect.
How does this happen?
- In the presence of heat stress, heat shock proteins (HSP) help protect the body by scavenging free radicals (unstable atoms that can damage cells) supporting cellular antioxidant capacity.
- HSPs also repair damaged proteins. This helps them return to their proper structure and function. Structurally intact proteins are critical for maintaining normal functioning cellular mechanisms.
3 Anti-Aging Heat Therapy Options You’ll Love To Try Out
Here are 2 anti-aging heat therapy options that will help you longer, better, lose weight and make you happier.
Take a sauna
One of the ways to try out heat therapy is to sit in a sauna. If you manage to get to a sauna consistently, you will help your body to run properly on a cellular level.
After using the sauna, the body releases a steady stream of endorphins that lasts for several hours. Endorphines are natural opioids produced by the body. They are well known for their ability to ease pain, promote relaxation, and induce sleep.
Helps you feel so much better about life
Sauna usage can also help manage depression. In a study with cancer patients, the patients who experienced whole body heat therapy (such as infrared heaters) and were markedly less depressed, angry, and tense.
Burns Calories and Melts Fat
Taking a sauna results in the decrease of systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It will also increase heart rate to a level similar to mild cardiovascular exercise. The sweating effect encourages you to drink water and flush toxins from your body. All helping your body increase its metabolic rate.
Another upside? Unlike cardio, you won’t be tempted to replenish yourself by reaching for food anytime soon; using a sauna isn’t a hunger promoting activity.
Keeps your mind sharp
Sitting in a sauna 4+ times a week, it has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. When proteins unravel, they tend to clump together, forming protein plaques. It is the protein beta-amyloid which disassembles and clumps in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s disease. Heat shock proteins (HSPs), the very proteins released during heat stress help to repair damaged proteins. By using the sauna consistently, you’re releasing streams of HSPs which flood your bodily tissues and repair damaged proteins they encounter..
Activates the growth hormone
One of the most fascinating effects of the sauna is the tremendous surge of growth hormone (GH) that it causes. Growth hormone is a vital bodily hormone responsible for maintaining healthy tissues, joints, skin, and hair. Downstream of GH is IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), which is synthesized in response to growth hormone. IGF-1 is thought to be the main driver behind many of the anabolic effects of GH. IGF-1 activates the mTOR (a type of protein enzyme) pathway, which triggers muscle protein synthesis, and IGF-1 inhibits activation of FOXO proteins, consequently inhibiting protein degradation (19). Beneficial GH releases of 500% over baseline has been observed with normal sauna usage (17), such as two 15-minute dry sauna sessions at 212°F (100°C)! And this scales, with longer more frequent sauna sessions increasing growth hormone levels 1000+% over baseline.
2. Infrared Yoga
While there are many styles of yoga, each discipline contributes to your overall health and well-being. Yoga is great for calming your mind and strengthening your body. Whether you are new to yoga or a dedicated enthusiast, you may be quite intrigued to learn of the many surprising health and wellness benefits of infrared hot yoga. Guess what? It’s also great fun…
Most think yoga is not for them. Especially men. Wrong! Yoga is such a great way to get healthy, lose weight and feel amazing. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the Mayo Clinic report that infrared therapy improves the functioning of blood vessels, reduces cholesterol, increases circulation and lowers blood sugar levels.
The Benefits of Hyperthermic Conditioning
The therapeutic heat of hot yoga helps loosen muscles, resulting in greater flexibility. Exercising in a heated environment is shown to increase your endurance and stamina. The heat is believed to improve your body’s production of Human Growth Hormone and heat shock proteins. Just as in the sauna effect, these compounds lead to physical healing and enhanced muscle growth.
With infrared heat, you experience the benefits of the sunlight without the harmful UV exposure.
When combined with infrared these health benefits are amplified. Here’s what will happen to you when practice:
Your immune system will improve
In today’s pandemic world, building a strong immune system is very important. Infrared rays are known to boost the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells and T cells. This improved immune system function promotes healing throughout your body, reduces muscle tension, soreness and muscle spasms. Raising your body temperature also creates a sort of artificial fever, which is also a benefit to your immune system.
Your skin will glow
Your skin will improve with infrared yoga. Skin problems can be eliminated with hot yoga due to the ability of hot yoga to increase blood flow and oxygenation to your skin. Infrared energy is also shown to improve collagen production and skin elasticity. This will reduce the appearance of fine lines, reduce or prevent wrinkles, and minimize acne scars.
Infrared yoga can help detoxify your body by increasing how much you sweat during your workout, potentially clearing heavy metals, toxins, and carcinogens from your body. Detoxification could be beneficial to those living with chronic fatigue or skin disorders. Infrared hot yoga also amplifies the amount of fat you will eliminate with exercise and eliminates retained fluids.
Helps you lose weight
Infrared boosts the enzymatic activity in your digestive tract and boosts your metabolism. Just one hour of infrared hot yoga can burn up to 900 calories, break down trapped fat, cellulite, and cellular waste. One thirty minute infrared hot yoga session is equivalent to sweating the distance of a two to three-mile run.
Reduce pain and inflammation
The infrared light and heat penetrate deeply to soothe pain, inflammation, and ease muscle soreness. Infrared heat penetrates your body, improving your circulation, enhancing oxygenation and relaxing your muscles. This has proven beneficial for yoga enthusiasts who rely on their discipline to help alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
Improve your flexibility while building stronger muscles
Your body moves better when your muscles are warm. You will find your muscles more limber; you may also find that you require less time to warm up. While your muscles will move easier, more freely with infrared hot yoga, it is still recommended not to push yourself too hard, at least not at first. Your tendons and ligaments are not as vascular as your muscles. While your muscles may stretch more deeply, your tendons and ligaments may not be ready; you need to gauge your efforts mindfully to reduce your risk of a pull or strain.
Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. This ‘fight or flight’ hormone made in the adrenal glands raises heart rate and blood pressure, leading to possible excess weight in the midsection. Infrared heat promotes relaxation by helping to balance your body’s level of cortisol.
We’re not going to deny that the heat can make your yoga practice more challenging. You will notice that hot yoga increases your heart rate. Even if you are used to pushing yourself in other yoga classes, during hot yoga, your body will typically need time to adjust to the temperature changes in your environment. Taking some time to adapt will be worth your efforts.
3. Hot thermal waters
Not all of us can easily access a hot thermal water spa or hot springs that occur in various parts of the world. Some countries are fortunate to have many naturally occurring hot thermal water sites available to the public for free or a small entry fee. Others may have to travel to get the benefit and stay at a spa or a thermal water destination. Depending on your COVID-19 travel restrictions, you should consider a holiday at a thermal bath or hot spring destination.
What are they?
Mineral baths or springs are bodies of water that the earth has warmed through the geothermal process until it is several degrees above the temperature of the surrounding soil. It is normally over the 100 degrees Fahrenheit mark. They usually spring up when volcanic activity or magma chambers are nearby. This might also be a reason for the high mineral content in the water. Fault lines in the earth can also cause them to appear.
Read more about thermal waters here: Geothermal waters explained
Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash
You can find them all over the world
The history of geothermal therapy for health reasons goes back to the times of the Greeks and the Romans. Back then, mineral baths, both natural and man-made, posed as centers for healing, socializing, worship and relaxation. The Romans, in particular, liked to seek out natural mineral bath sites wherever they went and conquered. When they found a suitable one, they would build their own thermal baths around it. The ruins of these constructions can still be found across Europe, with those located in the city of Bath in England perhaps one of the most famous ones. Mineral baths are found all over the world, and today, visitors still flock to their favorite locations in Iceland, Italy, China, Japan, North America, India, and Turkey.
Heat therapy has been used since the Middle Ages
The use of mineral water in medicine has attracted and lost interest over a long period and across nations. During the Middle Ages, for example, bathing in all its forms was considered dangerous, and people living in Europe avoided mineral baths for centuries. In medicine, geothermal therapy was first considered to have healing properties, then to be harmful, and later to have beneficial qualities again.
Today, the claims on the benefits of geothermal waters are quite vast, and balneotherapy is still being studied for its ability to treat these ailments. And to be fair, a dip in a hot spring can certainly make you feel rejuvenated.
Thermal waters are healthy
Thermal water can help alleviate physical ailments such as arthritis. Additionally, natural hot springs and thermal baths (such as the famous bathhouses in Budapest) have been found to reduce stress, improve sleeping patterns, boost circulation, and health conditions. If you practice it regularly, it will also help you manage your weight. Hot thermal waters, combined with cold showers or environmental conditions have even a more beneficial impact on your body.
Tourists have long flocked to the bathhouses of Budapest. As such, this wellness trend is becoming more and more global. It’s given a variety of countries an opportunity to embrace the wellness market.
Thermal baths are great travel destinations with easy wellness benefits. Find one today!
Heat therapy is fun and healthy. It should be part of your healthy anti-aging plan. And yes, you are never too young or too old to indulge.
Laukkanen T, Khan H, Zaccardi F, Laukkanen JA. Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):542-8.
Laukkanen T, Kunutsor SK, Zaccardi F, et al. Acute effects of sauna bathing on cardiovascular function. J Hum Hypertens. 2018;32(2):129-138.
Geiger PC, Gupte AA. Heat shock proteins are important mediators of skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2011;39(1):34-42.
Kukkonen-harjula K, Oja P, Laustiola K, et al. Haemodynamic and hormonal responses to heat exposure in a Finnish sauna bath. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1989;58(5):543-50.
Velloso CP. Regulation of muscle mass by growth hormone and IGF-I. Br J Pharmacol. 2008;154(3):557-68.
Rattan, Suresh: Hormetic Effect: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.2203/dose-response.003.04.008
A brief history of spa therapy.
Main photo: Soul Haven. Lights supplied by from https://yogapanels.com/