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Is the Sauna Good for Your Workout?

Even in the summer, a sauna is worth the extra heat

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Nearly every health club has one — but with mercury rising outside, should you subject your body to the sweltering temps inside a sauna?

The Case for Saunas
Hitting the sauna after a grueling workout relieves sore muscles. Saunas are also often used to alleviate arthritis, asthma, chronic fatigue, and for flushing toxins from your body. An Austrian study even found that sauna use may help to reduce the frequency of colds. Although heart patients are traditionally cautioned against stepping inside the cedar room (heart rate tends to jump 100 to 160 beats per minute), some studies show that men suffering from hypertension who sauna twice each week actually experience a decrease in blood pressure. Twenty minutes should be enough to work up a good sweat. And always rehydrate with two to four glasses of cool water afterwards.

But . . .
The sauna is no place to party. Never booze before (or while) you bathe in sweat, advises Lori J. Heim, M.D. "For [inebriated] people who stay in there too long, dehydration is a good possibility," she says. Extreme heat is also a no-no if you're trying to become a dad, according to urologist Lawrence Ross, M.D. "Although saunas don't seem to affect sperm counts, there is some evidence, at least for a period of time after exposure to a sauna, that sperm motility and quality can be affected," he says.

The Verdict
No need to sweat about taking saunas. If not misused, they pose no risk to healthy guys, says the American Heart Association. However, if you do suffer from extreme high blood pressure or heart issues, consult your doc first.

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