L ying alone in an oxygen chamber isn’t how we usually decompress at the end of a long week, but if simply breathing in and out for an hour can set us up for the weekend, we’re game. And with everyone from David Beckham to Oprah Winfrey singing the praises of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, we’ll admit, we’re intrigued.
Developed to aid recovery after illness, the therapy involves exposing the body to 100 percent pure oxygen (the air we breathe contains about 20 percent) and is proven to help treat all sorts of things, from sleep apnea to autism. Now available at O2Life Hyperbarics centres across Dubai, it also promises to reduce stress, boost immunity, improve brain power and, wait for it, prevent ageing.
Expecting great things, we’re only mildly nervous as we’re zipped into the (actually quite roomy) chamber. It looks a bit like a submarine, with little portholes along both sides so you don’t feel too claustrophobic. In fact, it’s almost like being at sea for the first few minutes as the chamber fills with oxygen and wobbles into shape around us. You need at least an hour inside for the oxygen to reach all your cells, and how often you do it depends on what you’re hoping to gain. For anti-ageing, our therapist tells us, you’re looking at two sessions a week.
It’s not the most relaxing environment – yes, you’re lying down and there’s a blanket and pillow to snuggle into, but bright lights and, of course, oxygen being pumped in at speed make it hard to zone out completely. We resist the urge to check our emails… for about five minutes. But then, you can do whatever you like once you’re in the chamber – even if you spent your lunch hour working inside it instead of at your desk, your body would still reap the benefits.
When we emerge, we feel relaxed, but sleepy, which is to be expected apparently – your body starts to detox after just one session. Waking up the next day, we’re amazed to find the perma-tension in our shoulders has eased. We can’t say it’s done anything for our crow’s feet yet, but it’s a start. Dhs300 per hour. Available at various health centres across Dubai, www.o2.life (055 379 6731055 379 6731).