Gyms are open again but social distancing restrictions are still in play. That means that, while you might be enjoying hitting the treadmill or being back in the weights room, sitting in a sweaty sauna with a bunch of strangers is still off-limits at the mo.
So what to do when you want to ease your muscles after a tough workout (other than proper stretching, of course)? The answer is: invest in an infrared sauna blanket for your home. Yes, you heard right, you can actually get blankets that give you the same benefits of a sesh in your local sauna, but from the comfort of your own bedroom.
Sounds intriguing, right? After all, the benefits of infrared sauna usage are myriad: among plenty of others, one study found that it’s just as useful for your heart as exercise, another found it can boost serotonin levels, and one 16-week trial even saw individuals dropping up to 4% of their body fat after three 45-minute sessions a week.
“The infrared band in the spectrum of light is the one that we perceive as heat,” says Dr Alejandro Junger, a New York-based cardiologist and detoxification specialist. “It makes the body sweat at lower temperatures than the ones needed for regular convection heated saunas, so people tolerate it better. Because IR penetrates deeper – up to three inches – it mobilises and burns fat, which not only helps with weight loss but with detoxification as well, since many of the toxins we absorb are surrounded and trapped by fat.”
Basically, an infrared sauna can help destress your mind and your muscles, burn calories and sweat out toxins from your skin. Sounds pretty good to us. So, when the team at MiHigh, an Aussie brand, offered me the opportunity to try out one of their infrared sauna blankets, I was keen to see if it was worth the hype.
MiHigh sauna blanket
At first look, it’s a little bizarre: it’s basically a plastic-lined sleeping bag that you sweat in. You can place it on any heat-proof surface, like your floor, but your bed makes for a comfier experience. Just plug in the control panel and set the temperature, then jump in and relax.
The brand recommends starting with a lower temperature and building up the heat as your tolerance grows. Likewise, with the timing, the recommended session is between 30 minutes to one hour, starting slower before building up as you get used to it.
When it arrived, I was impressed at how small it folds, and the handy carrying bag makes it easy to store. It takes five minutes to heat up and it’s not advised to leave it for any longer than that without getting in, so make sure you don’t get distracted during this time. You’re going to sweat – a lot – too, so have some towels ready for when you emerge.
Then just line up an episode of your favourite podcast or put on some meditation music, jump in and relax. If you prop your head up with enough cushions, you could watch TV while you’re in it, too.
Using the infrared sauna blanket
I turned it on at about 60 degrees to begin with, and, after 15 minutes or so, did find myself really starting to sweat. This is why it is important to heed the brand’s suggestions for clothing – you do need the long-sleeved clothing to help mop up all the moisture. The heat is really evenly distributed across the blanket and there’s a good weight to it, which is relaxing in itself, like using a supercharged weighted blanket.
Once you get over the novelty factor of lying in a heated sleeping bag on your bed, using the sauna blanket does make for an enjoyable experience. It really helped tackle my WFH-induced backache and, frankly, it was just nice to take 30 minutes out of my day for some R&R. Afterwards, I felt really relaxed and a quick cold shower felt amazing. I used it in the evening and I noticed I got to sleep more quickly, too.
Cleaning the blanket is easy – just wipe away any remaining moisture then use some anti-bac spray to ensure it’s hygienic for your next use.
If you’ve been nailing your at-home workouts and don’t fancy shelling out for a pricey gym membership any more, one of these blankets could fill the sauna-shaped hole in your life. They are quite pricey, at just under £400, but if you use it around three times a week, it’ll quickly become better value than hitting up the spa – and you’ll be regularly enjoying the skin and mental health benefits that come with infrared heat use.
It’s a luxury item to own, for sure, but sometimes it’s just good to treat yourself. Pick up one of these blankets from the MiHigh website here.
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