Monique Rana - Why sauna and steam?

Publish Date
Friday, 28 March 2014, 12:00AM
By Monique Rana

Sweating is as essential to our health as eating or breathing. It accomplishes three things – it rids body waste, regulates our temperature and helps to keep our skin clean and pliant. After a weights session or gym workout, taking a cool shower before hitting the steam room or sauna is a great way to complete the workout experience.

When we’re ill, fever is a highly effective and natural process for curing disease and restoring health, and has been recognised as such for thousands of years. Increasing body temperature above normal using a sauna mimics this natural process and is a proven way of removing toxins stored in fat and detoxifying the body.  That’s because many invading organisms tolerate a narrower temperature range than body tissues and are therefore more susceptible to increases in temperature. They may die from overheating before they do harm.

How to sauna and steam
•    Refrain from taking a sauna or steam on a full stomach but don’t sauna /steam on an empty stomach.
•    Wear togs or a towel for hygiene purposes.
•    Sit or lie on a top bench for more intense heat. Or a lower bench for less intense heat.
•    Toss water on the rocks if you want higher humidity.
•    Sauna/Steam for 10-15 minutes, then cool down outside the sauna/steam for 5-10 minutes.  Repeat 2-3 times if you desire.
•    Don’t stay longer than you feel comfortable.
•    Shower before and after each session.
•    Drink cold, filtered water to replenish water loss.

Benefits of Steam
Steam inhalation is also an effective treatment in respiratory conditions and is highly recommended for treatment of the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, allergies and asthma.
1. Steam relieves inflammation and congestion of upper respiratory mucous membranes.
2. Steam relieves throat irritation by moistening the air.
3. Steam relieves spasmodic breathing (Asthma, Croup).
4. Steam loosens secretions and stimulates discharge of mucous from the throat
 and lungs (natural expectorant).
5. Steam relaxes muscles and relieves coughing.
6. Steam keeps mucous membranes from excessive drying.

Aromatherapy and Sauna
Aromatherapy oils used in the steam or sauna, like Eucalyptus, may help to invigorate and stimulate the body as well as awaking your sense of smell.  Be mindful of others whom are using the steam room or sauna. It’s always best to check with the health club/gym first.

Consult your doctor before a Sauna if you have any health problems especially diabetes or other circulatory disorders, neurological problems or elderly or frail.
Women who are pregnant are not advised to sauna or steam.
It’s possible that a significant rise in the women’s core temperature may affect her unborn baby’s development, particularly in the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy.

Male Fertility*
Men who maybe experiencing fertility problems and who are trying to conceive a baby should avoid saunas/steam rooms and other high temperature baths. A study in The "International Journal of Andrology" reported that men who used a sauna regularly had lower sperm counts and their sperm had reduced motility. Once the men stopped the use of the sauna, their sperm count returned back to normal after two weeks. On the positive side is that since a man's body is always producing new sperm, these effects are not permanent, but they do temporarily reduce fertility.

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