The importance of the mind/body connection is well documented when it comes to athletics and fitness. It requires mental clarity and focus. Athletes and fitness professionals alike are always searching for new and better ways to make this connection.
That said, there is something about exposure to infrared that fosters the ability to achieve higher levels of focus. When I am running on the beach under the radiant warmth of infrared from sunlight, or if I am inside of an infrared sauna for a workout, my ability to focus on the mental connection to the body increases. Why does this happen? Is there a scientific reason, or is it just the environment itself?
Increased blood flow = better focus
In one study, researchers noticed that the thermal effects from infrared sauna treatments increases blood flow. It is well known that decreasing blood flow is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Increased blood flow is good for the brain and it is important to keep it that way. In the study, scientists “attempted to clarify the beneficial effects of far infrared light using the 5xFAD mouse… We exposed 5xFAD mice to far infrared light for 5 months. Among the far infrared-exposed AD mice, body weights were significantly decreased, and the levels of nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor protein were significantly increased in selected brain areas (compared to those in non-irradiated AD mice).“ (1)
A good mood and more energy = better focus
The brain needs ample energy to fend off depression. Some psychiatrists believe that one cause of depression is indeed low brain energy, or slow brain metabolism. In addition to exercise, infrared is a very good metabolism booster! Infrared light stimulates neurons (brain cells) to produce more energy enabling the brain to carry out its activities (the activity of focus, for example) more efficiently.
What about the activity of memory? Can infrared exposure improve memory? Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a key molecule involved in the learning and memory process. “Changes in BDNF expression are associated with both normal and pathological aging and also psychiatric disease… Some interventions like exercise or antidepressant administration [such as infrared treatments] enhance the expression of BDNF in normal and pathological conditions.” (2)
Another study involved a group of 21 people diagnosed with major depression. Participants who received the invisible [infrared] light sessions “experienced significant improvement in mood during a series of treatments compared with those who received a “sham” treatment in which they wore the headset but received no light.“ (3)
When you workout in an infrared sauna you are exposed to and are absorbing radiant energy. You will experience a better mood during training sessions as well as more cellular stimulation. People tell me all the time that they feel energized when they workout in the HOTWORX sauna. It is important to be in a peak state during workouts and this requires focus.
A better mood and more energy enhanced by infrared can help you to obtain a higher level of focus.