Working up a sweat can burn calories through physical activity, but can it also help heal the body?

A traditional sauna originated in Finland and was a steam bath where the steam was produced by water thrown on hot stones. The Finnish saunas date back thousands of years and are still immensely popular today.

According to historians, sweating as therapy may date back as far as the Mayan sweat houses of 3,000 years ago and although traditional saunas are still sought-out throughout the world, today’s saunas are utilizing technology to create similar health benefits through the power of light.

Enter the infrared sauna. This type of sauna uses light to create heat and is also often referred to as a far-infrared sauna, with “far” describing the location of where the infrared waves fall on the light spectrum.

Infrared light is the invisible light on the electromagnetic spectrum, just beyond what we see as red. It is felt as the sun’s heat.

While a traditional sauna warms the air around you by using heat that then warms the body, an infrared sauna directly heats the body without warming the air. Therefore, an infrared sauna is able to produce vigorous sweating and increased heart rate at lower temperatures than a traditional sauna.

This is appealing to many who have not been able to tolerate the heat of a conventional sauna. Infrared saunas are being studied for their health benefits in the treatment of multiple chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The infrared spectrum consists of near (NIR), mid (MIR), and far (FIR) waves, representing the different sizes in infrared wavelengths. These also refer to intensity in terms of infrared sauna treatment. Near-infrared is the shortest wavelength and is believed to be effective for skin renewal, cell health, wound healing, and tissue growth.

Middle-infrared is the next longest wavelength and is able to penetrate deeper into soft tissue to address inflammation, expand blood vessels, and increase circulation. This level is believed to be able to reduce pain for faster healing. Far-infrared, the longest wavelength, reaches the toxins deepest in the body and stimulates the sweat glands for a detoxifying sweat.

Infrared sauna therapy is believed to result in many benefits. Without the use of humidity, the heat from infrared saunas is immediately absorbed and healing qualities can include detoxification, relaxation, pain relief, weight loss, improved circulation, and skin purification.

Restoring Eden Community Holistic Health & Wellness Center opened in Gilsum early this year and one of its numerous health services includes a state-of-the-art Sunlighten Sauna, equipped with programmable sound, light, and multi-level infrared rays. The sauna can be customized for each user with personalized sessions based on health goals and interests.

The center’s glass-doored sauna is located within a private room that also includes a changing space and shower with towels and robes to be used during the session. The room also features a vibration plate to calm the nervous system and drain the lymphatic system following the sauna, as well as red-light therapy equipment, used to promote healing in skin and muscle tissue.

Owner Audra Wilson is a board-certified holistic nurse, holistic health practitioner, personal trainer, and barre instructor. Since opening the center, she has worked to continuously expand offerings for her clientele.

Wilson herself has come through a long battle with Lyme Disease and has used natural healing modalities such as those offered at her center to support her path to healing. She does not diagnosis or heal, she says on her website, but rather “supports the body’s own capability to actualize its potential.”

Some of the other services that have been made available through the center include comprehensive health evaluation, supplement dispensary and clean-living products, halotherapy salt sessions, personal training, essential oil and biomat sessions (Wilson’s favorite), barre, yoga and martial arts classes, massage therapy, a seasonal farmers’ market, and space for other community events. Many services can be booked directly online, including the infrared saunas.

At $35 per session, or $250 for 10 sessions, some time spent relaxing in the warmth of an infrared sauna may be just the rejuvenating treatment your body deserves over this long winter.

Restoring Eden Community Health & Wellness Center is at 626 Route 10 in Gilsum. For more information, call 603-338-8797 or email Visit online to book treatments at or find them on Facebook or Instagram.