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Skin rubdown using a dry towel (SRDT) to scrub the whole body is a traditional therapy for health promotion. To investigate its mechanism, 24 healthy male volunteers were studied. Body temperature, pulse rate, red blood cells (RBCs), serum levels of catecholamines and cortisol, blood gases (PO(2), sO(2), PCO(2) and pH), lactate and glucose, and the ratio and number of white blood cells (WBCs) were assessed before and after SRDT. After SRDT, pulse rate and body temperature were increased. PO(2), sO(2) and pH were also increased and there was no Rouleaux formation by RBCs. Lactate level tended to increase, whereas that of glucose did not. Adrenaline and noradrenaline levels increased, indicating sympathetic nerve (SN) dominance with increase in granulocytes. WBC number and ratio were divided into two groups according to granulocyte ratio (≤ or < 60%) before SRDT: a normal group and a SN group. Only in the SN group did the granulocyte ratio decrease and the lymphocyte ratio and number increase after SRDT. It is suggested that SRDT is a mild aerobic, systemic exercise that might affect the immune system via the autonomic nervous system.


Mayumi Watanabe, Osamu Takano, Chikako Tomiyama, Hiroaki Matsumoto, Takahiro Kobayashi, Nobuatsu Urahigashi, Nobuatsu Urahigashi, Toru Abo. Skin rubdown with a dry towel, 'kanpu-masatsu' is an aerobic exercise affecting body temperature, energy production, and the immune and autonomic nervous systems. Biomedical research (Tokyo, Japan). 2012;33(4):243-8

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PMID: 22975635

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