Middle-aged and elderly Chinese ladies claim to have found a sizzling new way to improve their health - lie down on hot, giant rocks in the early afternoon in the city of Xi'an, China.

CCTV reports that women with towels on their faces have been seen lying on top of huge rocks or hugging them when the sun's rays are at their hottest between 3 to 4 p.m.

Asked by reporters what they were doing, the ladies explained they were soaking up the sun to get rid of health ailments.

They brush off warnings from health authorities about sun exposure, cancer, heat strokes and eye damages, insisting that they are quite comfortable when atop the hot, burning rocks.

One sun-and-rock practitioner, known by her surname Lo, said she was suffering from synovitis and stiff muscles, but a 3 p.m. soak in the sun made her feel better.

However, one 70-year old unidentified woman was less enthusiastic about the bizarre treatment, especially right after developing abdominal boils from exposing her stomach, according to Shaanxi Daily.

But this isn’t the first time the sun has been seen as a source of healing. In 2015, a small group of female Hongkongers utilized the sun - called sun-gazing - to lose weight.

They claim the sun will rid them of their need to consume food.

It is also said to improve their vision and sleep quality, according to the Daily Mail.

Women between the ages of 20 and 30 gather together in the beach of Sam Ka Village in Lei Yue Mun daily until the sun sets. They will set their phone timers then just stare at the sun.

Some of them wear eyeglasses and umbrellas to protect their skin. These women look at the sun for 10 seconds a day and then do it again for another 10 seconds the next day until they reach 44 minutes by the ninth month.

The major idea of the sun-gazing therapy is for the sun to nourish them, effectively making them lose weight.

The sun-eating practice revolves around the concept that if the body can consume solar energy, the body itself will have reduced needs such as nutrients coming from food.

But dermatologists have warned of the damages from too much exposure to the sun, which will eventually lead to too much absorption of ultraviolet light.

Sunscreen can only withstand 6 percent of the damage, and an umbrella, 10 to 20 percent. The exposure will raise these women’s risk for serious skin cancer, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Ironically, the sun-gazers, like the hot-rock bathers, said they are doing the therapy for health reasons. MIMS

Read more:

Not all highly rated sunscreens meet AAD guidelines
Exposure to sun may increase life expectancy