Q: My gym has a sauna and I have not used it before. How hot does it get and what is the point of sitting in there? — Leslie, Sebring
A: Having a sauna at the gym is an incredible benefit to you as a member. Saunas are small, heated rooms with benches to sit on, and a wooden interior.
There is a small, stove-type appliance that heats the room up to temperatures ranging from 150-200 degrees.
For the exact temperature, there is usually a thermometer on the inside of the sauna. Sometimes the temperature is listed on a dial outside of the sauna near the door. If there is nothing that indicates the temperature, check with the employees at your gym.
Sitting in the sauna for 10-15 minutes before or after your workout will help loosen up your muscles.
The heat creates an intense sweat, which is wonderful for detoxifying your body. This type of detox can help boost your immune system, promote weight loss and relieve stress.
Some people sit in the sauna with a towel, others remain fully clothed. Your attire is dependent upon your comfort level. There is not a right or wrong thing to wear in the sauna. However, most public saunas do require towels and ask that you do not wear shoes inside of the sauna.
The heat from the sauna will increase your heart rate, which helps your cardiovascular function. In addition, the sweat helps you maintain a clear complexion because your pores open up and are cleansed naturally.
If you have any health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or respiratory problems, be sure to consult your physician prior to spending time in a sauna.
Q: I have a recipe for gluten-free pizza using polenta as the crust but I don't know what that is. — Angie, Frostproof
A: Polenta is made from finely ground yellow cornmeal. It can be eaten baked, fried or grilled. Polenta is also a great substitute for regular pizza dough. I like to use polenta to replace lasagna noodles and to make a "polenta bake." It is made the same way as lasagna, but using polenta instead of the noodles. This is a great way to add variety to your one-dish pasta meals. Because polenta is made from cornmeal, it is a gluten-free food.
You can make polenta from scratch by boiling cornmeal and water over a stove and stirring constantly for 45 minutes. Look at the package of cornmeal for the exact measurements.
Polenta can also be bought premade. It is sold packaged, already cooked and is located in the organic section of your grocery store's produce section. Buying polenta premade is a convenient way to use as an addition to your lunch or dinner without spending much time in the kitchen.