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As the weather gets colder, nothing sounds more appealing than sitting in a nice, hot sauna. It’s not only warm, it’s incredibly relaxing.
Of course, even though spending time in a sauna sounds so appealing, I don’t often head to a gym or spa for sauna sessions.
But maybe I should. And maybe you should too. Because science shows saunas could slash your risk for some serious health conditions, like:
1. High Blood Pressure
A study published earlier this year found that regularly spending time in a sauna can cut your risk of high blood pressure in half. The study followed the lifestyles and health of 1,621 men for 22 years. And men who sat in a sauna four to seven times per week were 50 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure.
2. Heart Disease
If saunas can keep your blood pressure in check, is it any wonder that they can also reduce your risk of heart disease? A 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that men who spent time in the sauna had a lower risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases and sudden cardiac death. And the more time they spent in the sauna, the better it was for their heart…
Men who went to the sauna two to three times per week had a 22 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death and a 23 percent lower risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases than men who only went to the sauna once a week. And men who went to the sauna four to seven times per week they had a 63 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death and a 48 percent lower risk of fatal cardiac diseases than men who only went once per week.
Why are sauna sessions so good for your heart?
Well, the heat from saunas increases your heart rate, enlarges your blood vessels and increases blood flow in your body. All this leads to better cardiovascular function. And (as I mentioned above) saunas also lower blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
In 2016, the same researchers who figured out that sauna sessions slash heart disease risk, determined that sweating it out in the sauna reduces your risk for another serious disease as well—dementia.
In this case, they found that people who went to the sauna four to seven times per week had a 66 percent lower risk of dementia than those who only went once per week. Researchers don’t know why saunas help an aging brain, but they do know that there is a connection between cardiovascular health and brain health. They also suspect relaxation plays a role in the brain benefits of saunas.
4. Respiratory Disease
Your heart and brain aren’t the only organs that do better with some sauna time. Your lungs love the effect of saunas too. Research shows that people with lung diseases like asthma and chronic bronchitis have better lung function and breathe better after spending time in a sauna. A Finnish study that tracked the health of 2,210 men for 25 years found that frequent sauna sessions also reduce your risk of developing pneumonia.
Saunas and exercise: A perfect pair?
If you want to get the most health benefits from your sauna experience, squeeze in an exercise session too. Research shows that people who exercise regularly and spend time in the sauna have an even lower risk of dying from all diseases than people who just spend time in the sauna.
So don’t pass up those locker room sauna sessions after your workout next time you go to the gym. Or if you’re not a gym person. Consider investing in a small portable indoor sauna. You can find them in a range of sizes and prices online… including some that are under $100. That’s a small price to pay to ward off so many diseases.
- Why saunas really are good for your health — MedicalXpress
- Sauna use associated with reduced risk of cardiac, all-cause mortality — MedicalXpress
- Frequent sauna bathing protects men against dementia — MedicalXpress
- Laukkanen, et al. “Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in middle-aged Finnish men.” — Age and Ageing, 2016; 0: 1-5.