Visiting the sauna may be helpful for more than just relaxation, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows. Something in the warm, humid air is beneficial to both heart health and brain health, but scientists are still not sure why.
A study of more than two thousand middle-aged men from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD) showed that the more frequent the sauna visits, the more protected men were from various conditions. Researchers followed up with participants in the study more than twenty years after it began.
The men in the study were divided into three groups: those had a sauna once a week, twice to three times a week, and then 4 to 7 times a week. The more often the trip to the sauna, the less amount of risk the men were at for diseases like dementia, sudden cardiac death, coronary artery disease, other cardiac events, and overall mortality.
Specifically, men who visited the sauna 4-7 times a week were 66 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia compared to those who went to the sauna only once a week. The connection between sauna visits and the reduced risk of dementia has never been studied before now.
The reason as to why being in the sauna has a protective effect over the individuals who decide to sit and sweat is mostly still not understood, but study leader Jari Laukkanen believes that “the sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role,” in addition to whatever else is going on at the cellular level.
Laukkanen’s study was recently published in the journal Age and Ageing.
Source: University of Eastern Finland