For most sauna enthusiasts, sitting in a steaming hot room is a relaxing, social or even spiritual experience. But for the 100-plus people who sweated it out in this year's World Sauna Championships in Finland, sauna is a sport -- one that has raised eyebrows since its inception more than a decade ago.
When a man died in the competition last weekend, extreme sauna-sitting drew a new round of attention. The death also sparked questions about what even moderate sauna use might do to our bodies. With claims that saunas and sweat lodges can prolong life and cure illnesses, experts say, it might be time for a hot-air reality check.