When you think of ways to improve your health, you most likely think of eating healthy and exercising. But have you ever considered sitting in a sauna?
Research shows new infrared saunas can help you lose weight and deal with arthritis pain.
Sixty-year-old Deb Goebel uses the one at Grand Falls Casino.
"It's very relaxing," Goebel said.
It uses a type of light to heat objects in the sauna, instead of the air. Goebel says it provides many more benefits than just relaxation.
"I've had a couple surgeries in one of my knees from racquetball. I can tell that the arthritis is setting in and they said that would happen. So coming in here and sitting in the infrared sauna for about 30 minutes really helps that pain," Goebel said.
"They do get increased circulation into the muscle tissue. And with our body, if we can increase the tissue temperature in the muscle and connective tissue, it moves a little easier. It's more extendable and you don't feel as much pain," Physical Therapist Allen Holm of Prairie Rehabilitation Service said.
Holm knows the benefits of infrared and near infrared light. He uses it on his patients through a laser, which works more focused and deeper than a sauna.
"We also use it for lateral epicondylitis where we have connective tissue problems or plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinopathy, and some muscle pain and trigger points like TMJ or neck and back pain. It works pretty well," Holm said.
The infrared sauna has more health benefits than just easing arthritis pain. When you come out of here after 30 minutes, you may have also burned hundreds of calories.
"When your core body temperature is heated, then your body is trying to regulate that and your heart is working really hard trying to bring your core body temperature back down. And through that, you're actually getting cardio exercise for your heart. They say it's an equivalent to running two or three miles," Grand Falls Casino Spa Manager Rene Stolsmark said.
More studies need to be done to show the exact health benefit. As for Goebel, she hasn't lost any weight but has gained other benefits.
"It really helps the arthritis and aches and pains," Goebel said.
And that's why she sets aside time for the sauna.
The sauna at Grand Falls is free with any spa service; hotel guests can use it for a fee.
You should ask a doctor before using an infrared sauna if you are pregnant, have a chronic condition or are on medication. You should also make sure you drink plenty of water.