By Barbara Bishop
A few weeks ago, my good friend Laurel invited me to go to a “sweat lodge” in Santa Monica. I hesitated at first. I hate sweating. Why would I want to go somewhere and purposely sweat? She assured me that it was amazing, so being a BFF, I trusted her and let her lead the way.
We walked into cute little bungalow off of Broadway and 10th. Laurel and I checked in at the desk, and were then each given a sweat shirt and sweat pants to put on. Really? If sweating weren’t enough, I have to wear these bulky clothes while I sweat? I was starting to get a little nervous.
We were then led back to an area where the “sweat lodge” beds were located. It was pretty cool – a small quiet space with kind of a sleeping bag that I stepped into. Right in front of me was a flat screen TV. Something to keep my mind off the fact that I would be sweating my ass off in a bit, I assumed. I was also given a glass of water, and a cold towel. The session was 55 minutes. I doubted I could last five.
At first it felt fine, not too warm. I had my entire body encased. As it got a little warmer, I took my hands out and drank some water. A bit later my arms and hands were out, and the cold cloth was pressed to my forehead. About 45 minutes into it, I was sitting up with half of my body out of the cocoon. Friggin hot! But not bad for my first one, the proprietors said.
After I educated myself about the benefits of sweating, I had renewed interest. Here are some facts I pulled from their web site. Who knew?
Sweating is directly linked to weight loss. A typical sweat session burns between 800-1,600 calories. Further, the detoxification that occurs during sweating makes it easier for your body to naturally deplete fat stored during everyday life. Gotta love that.
Sweating helps your skin to glow. Who wouldn’t want to glow? When you sweat, your body flushes out impurities that are embedded in your dermal layer, from pollutants and dirt to old makeup and chemical residue. Regular sweating can improve the tone, clarity, and texture of the skin, slow the aging process and reduce the effects of sun damage. It has also been shown to relieve acne, eczema, psoriasis, scars and stretch marks, lesions, and cellulite. So, sweating is the real fountain of youth! OK, I’m going to try to keep my whole body in for the whole time, next time I go in.
Sweating helps you to sleep better. Quality deep sleep is essential to physical and mental health. But, most of us struggle to get the rest we need on a consistent basis. In fact, roughly a third of Americans are chronically sleep-deprived, a condition that has been linked to obesity, diabetes, mood disorders, cardiovascular disease, and poor cognitive function. I’m screwed – I making another appointment as I write this.
It also provides many of the cardiovascular conditioning benefits of continuous exercise. During a 55-minute sweat, your heart receives a workout similar to that of a ten-mile run. Sweating boosts endorphins, improves cardiovascular fitness and endurance, and releases muscle tension. I’m liking this more and more. I can lie on a bed in a “sleeping bag” for 55 minutes instead of exercising? Sign me up. I’ll get used to the heat.