Looking for a way to improve your energy levels ? Turns out we can certainly benefit from some of the strategies from Nordic countries particularly in regards to saunas and cold plunging. Mild hormetic stressors such as heat and cold can be really beneficial (and enjoyable).
What is a hormetic stressor ? It’s a mild stress to the body which actually generates a low level of free radicals. In the presence of a low level of free radicals we produce more mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy producing part of a cell and as we age we tend to start losing them. The major hormetic stressor which we are all familiar with is exercise and the reason this is beneficial is it encourages the body to make more mitochondria which in turn means we can produce more energy. Stimulating these processes gives us improvement in both our short term and long term health.
Often we talk about stress as being negative for our health however it really comes down to the type of stress and the dose. Prolonged stress of any type can have negative implications for our health in the same way that prolonged exposure to cold water can result in hypothermia. A few minutes in the cold water is beneficial, too long an exposure is a problem.
What are some other types of hormetic stress ? The top 10 include the following;
- Intermittent Fasting
- Red and near infrared light
- Dietary Phytochemicals
- UV light
- Intermittent Nutrient Cycling
In this blog we are going to focus on the benefit of Heat and infrared light however there is more information on some of these options in my blogs such as Is Fasting for me ? and Six ways to increase your energy If you are interested in looking at cold hormetic stressors the latest blog on my clinic page is also useful Is it good to have a cold shower every day
Infra red light such at that from an infra red sauna penetrates soft tissue up to 3 centimetres warming the body and opening blood vessels in a process called “vasodilation.” The blood vessels on the surface expand and as the body heats it encourages sweating. Spending 30 minutes in a sauna is believed to increase heart rate and improve your exercise tolerance. A small study in 2005 showed that a month of sauna bathing in a group with Chronic Heart Failure saw improvements in 13 of 15 participants. In addition to a reduction in blood pressure and improved exercise tolerance they also say reduced levels of stress hormones. (1)
Recently my husband decided to see if a month of infra red sauna was beneficial and he found after a few weeks that his heat tolerance had improved, he felt his stress levels had reduced and he was noticing less muscle pain. He is a much smaller study group but still interesting to see the benefits over a short period of time. He is also quite keen to continue so expect an update on his progress in a couple of months.
A recent article in The Conversation “Can’t face running try a hot bath or sauna” looks at some of the benefits of hot bathing and also the advantages of using sauna to build up your tolerance when you are unable to exercise. In this way it could be useful for those people suffering from Chronic Fatigue for slowly improving resilience and assisting in recovery so that they can start to exercise. It is important if you suffer from Chronic Fatigue that you build up very slowly and gently with any new routine.
Need more assistance with improving your energy levels ? Book in with Christine Pope at Elemental Health at St Ives on Tuesday or Wednesdays. Bookings online at http://www.elementalhealth.net.au or by phone on (02) 8084 0081 .