Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sweat It Out

This morning I was at the gym early and I had the entire locker room to myself. I figured why not take 10 minutes post-workout to sit in the steam room and enjoy a good sweat.

I turned on my meditation music, rinsed off quickly in the shower and relaxed with a towel draped over my head. Have you ever done the same?

I always enjoy the feeling after a good steam - even just 5-6 minutes is enough to make me feel cleansed and relaxed.  Certainly this must be good for us, but how so?

The “sweat benefit” of the steam room is different than that of cardio exercise. You may lose a pound or 2, but it is not because of caloric burn, only water loss – which is replenished as soon as you drink water (which you should do immediately prior to and immediately after a sauna session).

Translation: There is no long-term weight loss effect because you are not burning calories; you are just sweating A LOT!

If the steam room isn't your thing, or isn't available to you, try the sauna or whirlpool. All 3 have amazing health effects:
  • Muscle recovery – the heat from the sauna increases circulation in the body. Sparing you the scientific details, here’s how it works: the increased circulation helps remove waste products and increase the flow of oxygen and other nutrients necessary to repair the muscle tissue that is broken down during exercise. 
  • Relaxation – sometimes even 5 minutes in a dark room with no distractions can help clear your mind and relax your body – especially following a strenuous workout. 
  • Skin health – the heat stimulates blood flow and opens the pores, allowing dead skin and impurities to escape. 
  • One study actually revealed that sitting in a sauna can have positive effects on the symptoms of sinusitis, bronchitis and allergies. 
There are also some rules and guidelines to keep in mind before stepping inside:
  • Rinse off in a cool shower prior to stepping in. If you are using the sauna following a workout, be sure to drink 16 – 32 oz of water also. (note: probably a good idea even if you are not working out prior) 
  • 15 – 20 minutes MAXIMUM. Remember they are HOT – most run somewhere in the 160-194 (F) degrees or higher. (drop that time to 6-12 minutes for the steam room)
  • If you start to feel dizzy or nauseous leave the sauna immediately. 
  • Drink cool water afterwards to help cool the body down and replenish lost fluids (16 - 32 oz.) 
  • Rinse in a cool shower if available (also helps cool the body). 
  • Avoid the sauna/steam room/whirlpool if you are pregnant or nursing, have high blood pressure, have suffered a recent heart attack or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol 
  • If you are under the direct care of a physician you should check with them before any use. 

Original post appeared: 4/17/2015
Updated and reposted: 7/6/2017

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