We normally think of NASA as exploring the farthest regions of space. But thanks to its research into plant growth, the space agency happened upon a discovery that offers a variety of health benefits right here on Earth.
Its use of light-emitting diodes in plant growing experiments several decades ago resulted in the development of red light therapy, which, among other advantages, can improve skin health.
Today, adherents of red light therapy swear by its ability to prevent lines and wrinkles, clear up conditions like psoriasis and even acne, and improve overall appearance of the skin.
In the case of aging, red light treatments jump-starts the body to help the skin, said Evan Thomas, who owns and operates Planet Fitness in Yuma with his brother, Brandon. The gym offers the therapy to clients in the Yuma area.
As people get older, the collagen in their bodies breaks down, in turn leading to lines and wrinkles on the face, he said. But the therapy uses infrared light that penetrates into the skin, stimulating the production of new collagen.
“It's basically stimulating your body into healing itself,” he said.
Other benefits vary from person to person.
“Some users report some benefits against acne,” Thomas added, while others find that it closes or tightens facial pores.
But in general, he said, what people who undergo the treatment can expect softer-feeling skin, improved toned, plus less prominent lines, wrinkles and sunspots.
While a variety of red light therapy devices exist on the market, Planet Fitness uses a chamber-like machine. Stepping inside as they put on goggles to protect the eyes, users are bombarded by the red rays.
Thomas stresses that red light therapy produces no ultraviolet rays, which have been linked to skin cancer.
Red therapy also does not tan the skin, said Thomas, In fact, for those people who choose to sunbathe or use tanning beds, he recommends they follow up with red light therapy to repair any damage to the skin.
The red light therapy chamber at Planet Fitness incorporates a “vibration plate” that enables users to tone their body through “whole body vibration” at the same time they undergo the skin treatment.
The plate is located on the floor of the chamber, and users stand on top it and bend their knees slightly. Depending on what physical benefits they seek, Thomas explained, they can choose one of four programs that generate differing levels of vibrations.
Program 1 creates a low-intensity vibration that relaxes the muscles and improves circulation of the blood. Program 2 provides mid-intensity vibrations that duplicate the effects of massage while toning and firming up the body. Programs 3 and 4 generate higher-intensity effects, with 3 being for people who want the physical benefits and 4 for those who want to remove cellulite.
The vibration plate makes the red light therapy machine more versatile, Thomas said, while providing physical fitness benefits that complement the skin treatment.
“If you're standing there, why the heck not” get the benefits of the vibration plate. “They work hand in hand in general wellness and well-being.”