Glories of the sauna
On the advice of Dr. Weeks I've started using the local swimming pool's sauna to improve my health. Sauna vary in heat and humidity. The one in the Manchester Aquatic Center consists of a room heated to 80 C with relatively low humidity. They also have a steam room with 100% humidity. Some crazy suicidal people use really, really hot saunas.
From what I've read it seems that dry saunas are good for digestive disorders (dry up all the mucus in the body), while wet saunas/steam rooms are good for healing respiratory illnesses. In practice, I found that I much prefer the dry sauna to the wet ones.
Some people like to use the sauna after exercising, but, from what I've read, this is not a good idea. This is because the heat of the sauna increases greatly increases one's heart rate. The body needs lots of oxygen to sweat and cool itself down. After vigorous exercise one's body is already hot and sweaty, so if one jumps straight into the sauna in such a state, there is a magnified risk of heart attack. A 20-minute wait is therefore recommended between exercise and sauna use.
At first I couldn't stay in the sauna for more than 5-minutes. I could hardly breath and felt quite light headed. Finally stumbling out of the hot room I needed to lie down on one of the benches for 15-minutes to recover.
Now, however, after just 5 visits spread over the last 5 weeks, my body has gotten more used to the heat. I now initially stay in for 10-minutes, go out to cool off, in for another 8-minutes, cool off, in for another 6-minutes, cool-off, in for another 4-minutes, cool off, in for another 2-minutes, out cool-off and lie down for a good 20-minutes to recover. After that I do some swimming. I take it easy the first few laps of the pool, since I'm still a bit shaky after the heat-therapy.
The increase in time I can spend in the heat seems to be directly released to how much my body can sweat. Previous to using the sauna I would hardly sweat on any occasion. However, I think the intense heat has "encouraged" my body to open its sweat pores. It's like holding a gun up to the body and saying: "sweat or die!" The benefit is of this is not only that it allows me to spend more time in hot places. Sweating also removes toxins from the body. They literally ooze out the skin (eww, yuck).
My digestion improves more and more after each visit. At the moment the beneficial effect wears off four days after each visit. Let's hope the time period of well-being increases over time.