Jamie Schneider

mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor

By Jamie Schneider

mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.

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March 1, 2023

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If you’ve found yourself here, you’re likely already familiar with the benefits of hot and cold therapy: It aids cellular energy, improves resilience, and promotes detoxification (just to name a few highlights). And while it sounds high-tech, you don’t actually need any fancy gadgets to dabble in the practice. Sure, you could invest in a proper cold plunge tub, or you can just turn the nozzle to freezing during the last 30 seconds of your shower. Ta-da! 

The “hot” portion, however, is a bit trickier to dupe. You don’t want to turn the faucet to the opposite extreme, as a scalding shower can easily burn your skin. You could opt for a portable sauna, but, well, those can get expensive.


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Not to fret, for board-certified internal medicine doctor Vivian Chen, M.D., has an easy method to reap sauna-like benefits without dropping coin on an at-home device. 

How to hack hot & cold therapy. 

“If you can’t afford a sauna, exercise is great,” she shares on the mindbodygreen podcast. Better yet, it’s completely free! “You need to invest time in exercise, but going out for a run will get you sweating and your body temperature up, and that is a great way to actually get the lymph flowing.” 

Especially if you’re after the detoxification benefits of sauna, exercise does provide a worthy alternative. You see, your lymphatic system doesn’t have a “pump,” unlike your circulatory system. Moving your body stimulates this lymphatic system, which basically acts like a giant drainage system for your body. “So if you don’t move your body, the fluid in the lymph is stagnant. It doesn’t move, so now toxins are not moving to where they should be, and you are not detoxifying,” Chen adds. 

Not to mention, Chen notes, sweating can help you eliminate heavy metals and contaminants, like phthalates1 and BPA2. “So you are sweating out toxins, no matter how you sweat,” she explains. 

That doesn’t mean you must go for a two-hour-long run to get things flowing. “Every hour, just do jumping jacks for a minute or something like that,” she adds. “Get up every hour and move your body in whatever way you can.” 

Other ways to detox. 

The thing is, your body naturally detoxifies all day long—but you can aid the process with certain habits. Exercise and hot-cold therapy are just a couple of ways to keep everything flowing; below, find extra habits to detox every single day

  • Red light therapy (find our favorite devices here)
  • Liver detox supplements (these are all backed by a nutrition Ph.D.)
  • Stress management
  • Proper gut health


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The takeaway. 

Not ready to invest in an at-home sauna? Totally fine—opt for a sweaty workout to “hack” the detoxification benefits. Detoxification isn’t the only reason people love sauna bathing, of course, but if it’s one you prioritize, just know that you can dabble in other more affordable options before making the splurge.


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