Researchers suggest that regular sessions in a sauna can help protect you from a stroke
By Katrina Caruso
When it comes to the benefit you get from a sauna, new study results suggest that the more time you spend in the box, the better for your cardiovascular health. Finnish researchers published the results recently in the journal Neurology.
Medical researchers followed 1,628 men and women between the ages of 53 and 74 over an average span of 15 years; none had a history of stroke at the start of the study. The study took into account the participants’ blood pressure, BMI, behaviours such as smoking and drinking alcohol, and other factors related to their cardiovascular health. Participants recorded how often they visited saunas and how long they stayed inside.
The researchers found that those who took saunas 2–3 times a week were 12% less likely to experience a stroke (compared to the participants who went only once a week); those who enjoyed a sauna bath 4–7 times a week were 62% less likely to experience a stroke.
While more study is needed, the researchers believe that the heat from saunas can help to mediate inflammation and help to reduce stiffness in the heart’s arteries and the rest of the body.
Saunas have a long history in Finland and are exceedingly popular: the country’s population is 5.5 million, and there are 1 million saunas in operation. On average, Finns take one or more saunas a week, and the practice begins when they are children.
The well-known benefits of saunas are that they help to regulate body temperature and the nervous system, and they can help protect against free radicals, as they have antioxidant-like effects. They also help with pain relief. However, recent research has revealed many more benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and helping with mental-health issues including depression and anxiety.