Some people and cultures swear by the health-giving properties of the sauna. Others dismiss them as an executive workout, a way to build up a sweat without the exercise.
Now scientists have found evidence that using a sauna can be good for the heart and help you live longer.
A study suggests men who have frequent saunas live longer and have a reduced risk of fatal cardiovascular disease, according to an article published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Jari A. Laukkanen, of the University of Eastern Finland, and coauthors investigated the association between saunas and health in a group of 2,315 middle-aged men (42 to 60 years old) from Finland.
The risk of sudden cardiac death was 22% lower for men who had one sauna bathing session a week. And more sessions improved those numbers. It’s 63% lower for 4 to 7 sauna sessions a week.
The amount of time spent in the sauna also seems to matter. Compared with men who spent less than 11 minutes in the sauna, the risk of sudden cardiac death was 7% lower for sauna sessions of 11 to 19 minutes and 52% less for sessions lasting more than 19 minutes.
“Further studies are warranted to establish the potential mechanism that links sauna bathing and cardiovascular health,” the study says.
Rita F. Redberg, editor-in-chief of JAMA Internal Medicine, writes: “Although we do not know why the men who took saunas more frequently had greater longevity (whether it is the time spent in the hot room, the relaxation time, the leisure of a life that allows for more relaxation time or the camaraderie of the sauna), clearly time spent in the sauna is time well spent.”
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