Limit time spent in saunas, steam baths

Saunas are not an ideal place to lose weight. Fat can only be burnt through exercise because it is converted into heat, then carbon dioxide and water. Net Photo

According to Wikipedia, the use of saunas started as a way of life in Finland about 2000 years ago and they were pits dug underground and used as dwellings in winter. It was a fireplace where stones were heated to high temperature and water was poured on the stones to produce steam. Over time, this has transitioned into rooms where people go to experience dry heat or wet heat sessions. The steam or dry heat makes the bathers sweat.

Catherine Nabwire the CEO at Inspirations Salon, Beauty & Spa Services says steam baths and saunas are a form of therapy.

“We do not use only the steam but also add essential oils which we believe help to relieve the ailments such as sinuses, asthma, migraines, stress, arthritis, detoxifying, acne and many others. There is a recommended number of times and essential oil for each of the conditions,”Nabwire says.

Some people think that the steam bath is simply for fun and many go to such places about two or three times a week but Nabwire says “Unless a client has sinusitis or a cold, we do not advise them to come for the steam bath more than once a week because we believe that everything should be done in moderation.”

She adds that one can tell from their sweat that they have toxins in their body especially if the sweat looks concentrated or it has a bad odor. In such a case, it is recommended that one opens their pores to allow easy escape of the toxins through sweat.

Sauna, according to Dr Vincent Karuhanga, a general practitioner at Friends Poly Clinic is supposed to be therapy for people with muscle ache, headaches, arthritis pain, common colds and asthma, those who are stressed and anxious because the therapy increases blood circulation.

What happens?
There are dry heat and steam saunas. In a dry heat sauna, there is no water, there are just heated rocks, wood or electric stove that produces heat for the heat bathers. The steam bathrooms on the other hand are filled with moist heat. The temperature in a dry heat sauna is usually higher than a steam room (between 70 to 100 degrees celcius). Many of the dry heat saunas and steam room usually have a provision for many users to go in at ago.

However, some spas accomodate one occupant or a maximum of two people at a time.

“This is for fear of spreading disease because different people come with different health conditions some of which are contagious, Nabwire says. If many people go into the room at the same time, they might not get the expected benefits we all have different needs.”

For people who have phobia for very hot places or first timers, Nabwire recommends that such a person gets into the room before it is heated so that the body adjusts to the temperature.

In normal cases however, the steam room is heated while one takes a bath. By the time they get in, the room is steaming is ready for use.

He warns people against prolonged exposure to dry heat in saunas because it can raise the body’s temperature to extremes. Nabwire says that clients at her parlor have their steam bath timed for 30 minutes but the first 10 minutes are used for bathing while the room heats up and some people actually move out after 10 or 15 minutes.

It is advisable that you end your sauna as soon as you feel weak and dizzy. “The recommended time of stay in a sauna is between 15 to 20 minutes and not more than two times a week,” he warns.

The myths
The saunas or bath places have become very common. Many people think that sweating from the sauna reduces the fat and removes toxins but according to Dr Karuhanga, this is not enntirely true.

“Saunas are not an ideal place to lose weight. Fat can only be burnt through exercise because it is converted into heat, then carbon dioxide and water. The heat in a sauna can increase your heart rate but the fat remains intact.” he says.

Vulnerable people
According to Dr Karuhanga, there are people who are likely to get suffocated or even become unconscious if they ever attempt to use the dry heat saunas or the steam bath rooms. These include.
•The elderly and babies have a compromised mechanism so their bodies cannot regulate extreme temperatures.
•Pregnant women are always sweating and their temperatures are usually high. Going to the sauna can harm the unborn child.
•People with high blood pressure, heart diseases and diabetes are likely to suffer stroke or heart attack because the excessive heat can cause narrowing of heart vessels and irregular heart beat.
•People who rarely sweat should not go to the sauna because they are likely to get dehydrated.
•People with kidney diseases and ill health should not go to saunas

Before you go to the sauna
•Ensure that you are hydrated enough.
•Check your blood pressure and sugar levels because you may get an irregular heartbeat if your levels are high
•Avoid alcohol caffeinated drinks because they often cause a lot of sweating hence dehydration.