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Sunday,October 25,2020 10:46 AM

Why you need the sauna!

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th October 2005 03:00 AM

SAUNAS or steam baths are some of the remedy places people turn to when they want to lose weight. Either place, it could be due to personal preference. But does it actually help in losing weight? How much weight is lost?

SAUNAS or steam baths are some of the remedy places people turn to when they want to lose weight. Either place, it could be due to personal preference. But does it actually help in losing weight? How much weight is lost?

By Carol Natukunda

SAUNAS or steam baths are some of the remedy places people turn to when they want to lose weight. Either place, it could be due to personal preference. But does it actually help in losing weight? How much weight is lost?

Peter Barigye, the health club manager at Bugolobi Leisure Centre says 300 or even 500 calories per sauna session, which is usually 30 minutes. One kilogram of body weight is equal to 7,700 calories.

The temperatures in a sauna, he says, are of the order of 60 to 100 degrees Celsius.

“The air can be relatively dry, or water can be sprinkled over the benches to increase humidity. The air must never be completely dry, however, since it could be harmful to the respiratory system,” Barigye says.

He however says a steam bath should not be looked at as something that can help you lose weight. “You don’t lose weight, but rather it relaxes your mind.”

Collins Mpango, a staff member at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel’s Kidepo health club, says weight can only be lost on provision that one sticks to their weight watching programmes.
“If one has been on diet control, it’s important to stick to their health eating schedule,” he says.
Mpango says people often feel hungry after coming out of the sauna or steam bath. But, he argues, snacking more and more may affect the weight loss; no matter how much one goes to a health club.

“If you cant cope with the hunger, then its better that you order for something that is in line with your diet so that you don’t snack heavily,” he says.
Dr. Joel Okullo, director of Regional Centre for Health at the medical school, Mulago Hospital, says going to a sauna or steam bath may not always be a remedy to weight loss unless someone sweats while there. He says that while in a sauna or steam bath, the heat acts quickly to eliminate toxins through the skin, because the skin pores open, giving way to melting of the extra fat.

He says that fat becomes water-soluble and can be disposed off by sweating. So you lose weight not just water. “The heat there doesn’t reduce weight. It’s only sweating that does because the fats are melting and being secreted. You may go for a steam bath for instance, but if you don’t sweat while there then you can’t guarantee that you are losing weight,” he says.

He says it is important to drink water as some melting fat and salts may be lost through urine.
However, Dr. Ronald Kisolo, a sports doctor for the Cranes football team says losing weight requires one to move beyond a sauna, steam bath or even swimming.

“A sauna or steam bath only helps circulation of the blood. But excess weight is lost when you do physical exercise including running and walking,” he says, adding, “I look at saunas as more of the social activity especially if it is done before exercise.”

Yonathan Fikre a Makerere University student did not like his first experience in the sauna. He felt like his face was burning up and like he had gone blind. He walked out in less than two minutes.

Fikre resumed the steam bath with what he describes as a consistent heart. “Even when I couldn’t see amidst the ‘teary’ eyes, I pressed on for the next ten minutes and felt much better after it,” he says.

“It is not only to do with weight. The freshness you feel afterwards lasts for about a whole day,” he adds.

“Steam bathing will not only help you relax and relieve stress, but also relieve tired, stiff muscles and can be used in the rehabilitation of certain sports injuries. It can even reduce the stiffness and pain associated with a sedentary lifestyle,” Fikre explains.
Etiquette

You need to know that in some Ugandan gyms the saunas and steam baths are unisex and people usually go half naked. If seeing people with small pieces of clothes wrapped around themselves, embarrasses you, it’s best to avoid it and find a single sex sauna or steam.

However, in Sauna Etiquettes (2005), Ron Karpinski, says you should not go to the sauna just to peep at other people’s bodies. “You gaze ahead at the wall and count the knot holes in the wood or hang your head and stare at the mosaic floor tiles,” she says, “of course as you think or reflect back on your life.”

Hygiene and safety

Barigye says steam is usually mixed with axe oil, which is a kind of medication for your skin. He adds that one is advised to bathe before going into a sauna.
The health club should be in position to provide a clean towel, and flip-flops. “Its just that many people prefer to enter the sauna barefooted,” he says.
He says electricity warming is much safer to use in heating the sauna or steam bath.

Barigye says people who are taking drugs, alcoholics and children are not advised to attend the sessions.
He however says, that diabetics and those with blood pressure problems can go into a sauna or steam bath, for five minutes. “Many people take beer during a sauna. Blood pressure and excessive alcohol intake may not mix well with the sauna,” he warns.

Barigye also says pregnant women should not use saunas or baths unless they have been familiar with them.
The cost of using these facilities in Kampala will be at least sh5000.

Origin of the Sauna

According to Mikkel Aaland, in History Of The Sauna (1997), until the 16th century, people’s bathing habits were virtually unrecorded.

The story goes that a farmer coming off his field in the early evening would slip into the same hut he used for drying malts and smoking meats. The glowing heat of the ‘sauna’ would relax his muscles and soothe his soul. He left rejuvenated, hungry for a large meal and maybe a dance at a neighbouring farm.

Most researchers agree that people always had some form of sweat bath, in the same way like the farmers. “It was the simplest and most efficient way to satisfy people’s innate need to keep clean,” Aaland says.

The sauna purpose, as a cleansing and relaxing habitation, Aaland adds, has not changed over time, but advances in technologies and applications have brought forth better and easier ways of enjoying it’s warmth.

Why you need the sauna!

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