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Health hazards force Kenyans to saunas

By Xihnua
Reaching and staying at a healthy weight is a long-term challenge for people who are overweight or obese.

But it also is a chance to lower your risk for other serious health problems. With the right treatment and motivation, it’s possible to lose weight and lower your long-term disease risk.
Saunas are gaining popularity in Kenya among the health- conscious Kenyans, fuelled by high stress lifestyles and the rising prevalence of knock-on health issues such as high-blood pressure, now responsible for 12.5 per cent of deaths in the country.
Studies showed that a sauna delivers the health benefits of a work-out, improving cardiovascular health, while also flushing urban toxins out of the system and aiding in weight loss.
According to Davis and Shirtliff, suppliers of sauna equipment, it’s a health benefit list that has now seen some 5,000 saunas installed in the country, 4,000 of them in homes and the remainder in gyms and fitness facilities.
“We are experiencing growth in the Kenyan economy and with it a demand for luxurious living in the homes of the upper-middle class and upper class. People want to have everything they feel they need right in their own homes,” said Alec Davis, the CEO of Davis and Shirtliff.
“Urban, sophisticated lifestyles have also created a more health-conscious consumer, driving the uptake of saunas alongside gym equipment.”
Over the past four years, Davis and Shirtliff has carved out a niche for itself supplying saunas in homes in upscale residential estates in Nairobi and its environs.
Weight-loss is another benefit of saunas. In a single sauna session, the average person can shed 500 grams, the loss of which consumes approximately 300 calories. The AMR journal equates this to 3 miles of running.
“We had our sauna equipment re-fitted to meet the growing demand in our facility. We are glad to get positive feedback from customers, who have expressed increased satisfaction due to improved physical well-being from sauna use,” said Musa Ibrahim, the fitness supervisor at the Nairobi Club.
Davis and Shirtliff, which also supplies water equipment across East Africa, has recorded near 100 percent annual growth in sales of sauna equipment across each of the last several years, making saunas a high growth business segment.
Saunas, a Scandinavian invention, generate gentle, persistent heat that, according to a study in the Alternative Medicine Review (AMR), the US peer-reviewed journal for healthcare practitioners, delivers the same health benefits as a moderate workout.
A sauna increases the heart-rate by as much as 60 percent, as blood vessels dilate, boosting an individual’s cardiovascular performance.
“I used to visit a sauna every week, to help me cope with my high blood pressure. When my life got too hectic, it became rather difficult to make it to my fitness club, so I decided to have one installed at home for my convenience. I must say it has helped me a lot,” said Rita Kibet, a Nairobi-based executive.
The AMR journal also noted that the deep sweating associated with sauna use flushes out toxins such as lead, copper, zinc and mercury from the body.
These are toxins that our bodies absorb routinely in urban environments. In sweating, bacteria are rinsed out of the skin’s epidermal layer and sweat ducts, in turn improving capillary circulation. The effect is that the skin looks and feels softer.
Saunas are also able to significantly lower incidences of influenza, colds and minor respiratory diseases.
The heightened humidity in the sauna triggers a more rapid production of white blood cells which then actively neutralise viruses. Additionally, the vapour in the sauna helps relieve sinus and congestion from colds and allergies.
Davis and Shirtliff is the sole supplier in East Africa of saunas from Sawo, a leading international manufacturer of sauna equipment based in Finland.

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