Can Frequent Trips to the Sauna Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease?
A trip to the sauna is a relaxing activity people have enjoyed for thousands of years. Apart from being a soothing way to unwind after a long week, the soothing heat of a sauna is also full of health benefits. Studies have shown that saunas can ease pain, reduce stress, treat certain skin conditions like psoriasis, and alleviate asthma symptoms. There are many reasons why visiting a sauna could be great for your health, and thanks to a group of researchers in Finland, there may be one more. Their study, published in BMC Medicine, states that frequent trips to the sauna could exponentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in men and women.
Conducting the Study
The analysis, which took place between 1998 and 2015, sought out to discover if there was any link between sauna usage and cardiovascular health. The researchers collected data for over 1,688 adults with an average age of 63. These subjects completed surveys on how often they visited the sauna and how long they stayed. These surveys were then studied in correlation with the person’s heart health records over the 17-year period of the study.
Results Show Link Between Sauna Use and Heart Health
After analyzing the data, the researchers discovered a few interesting relationships between cardiovascular health and sauna use. They first identified that those who used a sauna four to seven times per week had a lower chance of suffering from cardiovascular disease and CVD-related death than those who only went once per week.
The results of the study did not end there. It was also reported that the amount of time spent in the sauna per visit could dramatically affect one’s risk of heart disease. Researchers concluded that those who spent over 45 minutes in the sauna per week had an even lower risk of CVD than those who only spent 15 minutes per week.
How Do Saunas Reduce Heart Disease Risk?
When asked why sauna usage could have such a large effect on someone’s heart health, one of the researchers, Jari Laukkanen, stated there could be a number of reasons. The sauna is known to relieve stress and reduce blood pressure, both of which could otherwise cause heart distress over the years. Additionally, saunas are known to increase one’s heart rate. In fact, the heart rate increase can be similar to that of low to moderate intensity exercise. That means spending 15 minutes in the sauna could have a similar effect on your heart as going for a brisk 15-minute walk.
Study Requires More Research
While the study has shown some positive and conclusive results, the team of analysts noted that their scope of research needs to be widened. They state that their surveys were self-reported, and their demographic sample was only from one region. To get more definite results, additional studies involving adults from a variety of age groups and locations need to be done to get a better understanding of how saunas affect the general population.
Even though more research needs to be conducted, it seems that frequent visits to the sauna could be a great way to take preventative measures against heart disease in the future. However, if you are pregnant or suffer from certain conditions like low blood pressure, speak to your doctor before visiting the sauna.