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A distinction is made between bathing in natural bodies of water (seas, rivers, lakes, and estuaries) and artificial ones (outdoor or indoor pools). The physiological effect of bathing depends on temperature, mechanical stimuli, and chemical stimuli (in seas, salt lakes, pools of mineral water). Bathing in open bodies of water adds the stimulating effects of motion in water, pure air, inhaled aerosols, and solar radiation to the beneficial influence of the water itself.
Bathing conditions the body and also has therapeutic purposes in cases of functional disturbances of the nervous system and certain diseases of the cardiovascular system. Bathing for therapeutic purposes is usually prescribed when the temperature of the air is no lower than 22°-20°C and of the water no lower than 20°-18°C; the patients bathe 2–5 to 10–15 minutes one to three times a day. Young, healthy, and adequately trained persons may bathe even in winter (“polar bears”).
Contraindications to bathing are expressed atherosclerosis, second- or third-degree cardiovascular insufficiency, a tendency to bleeding, severe emaciation, febrile and acute inflammatory diseases, active forms of tuberculosis, certain skin diseases, and the second half of pregnancy.
V. T. OLEFIRENKO