Today people are more health conscious and some tend to be fitness freaks. There is a variety of health and fitness magazines as well as clinics offering expert advice on practically any and every symptom of ill health. One of the various ways touted to keep fit is the sauna. At times the advantages seem over estimated while some may actually be practically beneficial.
Some of the benefits of saunas are that they appear to help in losing weight. This may be possible as during a sauna the heart rate increases resulting in the loss of calories. On the other hand, the heart is the only muscle working overtime while the other muscles are at rest. If the weight loss has to be a well rounded program, a session of regular exercise is desirable as this would help in building and toning the muscles of the whole body. The ideal way would be to combine the two by exercising first and then taking a sauna.
Another benefit that is cited is that saunas help to reduce the toxins in the body. This has been championed by the marketing sector but certain toxins like mercury and lead can be removed from the body only through infrared saunas. So the simple and traditional saunas have no scientific backing regarding the removal of toxins.
Saunas are also considered beneficial for reducing cholesterol. This too seems like another marketing gimmick. How can cholesterol which is directly related to the intake of diet be reduced only by a sauna without a change in the diet? Sounds far-fetched, and yet again there is no scientific proof to hold good this claim too.
Naturally, when you read such contradictory reports, one would actually believe that saunas are not all that beneficial and write them off completely. Let’s take a look at how a sauna actually affects our body. Firstly, a sauna increases the heart rate and hence the flow of blood to the skin increases which makes a person sweat profusely. It is highly beneficial for people suffering from sinus problems as the steam relieves the pain where the mucus has collected in pockets and this opens the nasal passages for free flow of mucus.
Those suffering from arthritis and rheumatism feel greatly relieved as the heat alleviates the joint pains. But, of course, this is a temporary relief as once the person is out in the open, the joint pains may recur. Athletes also find their muscles become more flexible due to the heat and a sauna helps them before working out.
The rightful claim of a sauna is that it is certainly a stress buster. At the end of a busy day, it helps to relax and induce deep sleep – a treat for the insomniacs and workaholics. It also helps patients to recover after an illness. Nevertheless, using saunas should be done with medical advice from the doctors in such cases. For normal people, it certainly has its advantages when taken from time to time.
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