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Is It Safe to Pair Infrared Lighting with Your Workout?

Is It Safe to Pair Infrared Lighting with Your Workout?With so many gyms and fitness products around, those in the industry must find creative ways to generate interest or they quickly become obsolete. Think about how many yoga studios and smaller niche gyms are in your area. There’s certainly no shortage, and if one or two close you’re not likely going to miss them because another will be opening right behind it.

Infrared fitness is a heat-related workout that has been around for a few years and has recently gained in popularity. It is being used in saunas and yoga studios. Additionally, entire fitness centers are filled with these red heat lights marketed as enhancing workout results. Everyone thought Zumba was a fun, fantastic workout that produced results until orthopedic surgeons began seeing an increase in knee replacement surgeries. Will infrared workouts prove to cause more personal injury than personal improvement?

What is infrared light?

Infrared light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that emits energy in the form of heat. It is a naturally produced energy source given off by all objects on some level. On the far end of the scale is the sun, which gives off about half of its heat through infrared radiation. On the everyday use side of things, we have heat lamps or small household appliances.

What does infrared fitness promise?

Companies like Red Effect have created full infrared workout concepts. They promote boxing, barre, spinning classes and even sitting in a sauna, all lit and heated by infrared bulbs. Most people who are serious about getting in shape spend at least an hour a day at the gym, if not longer. That means anywhere between five to 15 or more hours per week being exposed to direct infrared light.

These gyms boast health benefits such as:

  • Burning up to 600 calories while you relax in an infrared sauna
  • Heating your core to provide a natural detoxifying sweat
  • Relieving everything from minor aches and pains to chronic pain while speeding recovery time
  • Significant stimulation of blood flow up to double the normal rate
  • Lowering blood pressure while improving circulation
  • Stimulating the circulatory system to oxygenate cells and strengthen the immune system
  • Stimulating collagen production to reduce wrinkles

Unfortunately, not all these claims have been substantiated and are merely creative marketing designed to attract health enthusiasts. In particular, while detoxification through sweating is a large claim these companies make, there is no scientific evidence that infrared light cleanses your body of toxins.

What are the safety risks of infrared workouts?

Although gyms and infrared sauna companies tout this technology as the new holy grail of fitness, there is a harmful downside. Depending on your overall health and amount of time you spend in these heated gyms, you could be putting yourself at risk for injury or worse.

Gym goers need to be cautious of risks and medical conditions such as:

  • Feeling so relaxed and flexible that you overstretch and strain or tear tissue
  • Losing too many electrolytes and minerals that can be detrimental to tissue
  • Low blood pressure, or hypotension, due to dehydration can lead to shock and become life threatening
  • Light-headedness, which can lead to traumatic brain injury if you fall and hit your head
  • Transient leg pain
  • Airway irritation
  • Lowered sperm count and motility with just two 15-minute infrared sauna sessions per week
  • Potential eye irritation or damage from repeated prolonged exposure to near-infrared heat that can cause cataracts or vision loss

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can lead to damage to your heart, kidneys, muscles or brain. These conditions can be brought on by dehydration combined with other factors such as:

  • Being over 65 years of age because you have more difficulty regulating your body temperature.
  • Being overweight, which many people join gyms to reverse but need to do so safely.
  • People with heart conditions, in particular can be at higher risk from infrared workouts because combining heat with exercise can place stress on your system and increase your heart rate or result in complications from prescription heart medication.

You join a gym to improve your health, but fitness centers primarily exist to generate money. They know that most members will rarely attend while continuing to fork out a monthly fee. Likewise, they expect a small percentage of serious health nuts will spend a large amount of time putting in hard work to get results that could ironically jeopardize their health.

If you were injured by equipment or an unsafe fitness center environment, schedule your free case evaluation today with the knowledgeable Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP, by calling our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or by reaching out to us through our contact page.


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