A research team from Finland has attracted attention with a study showing that taking regular sauna baths can reduce the risk of heart attacks with up to 63 per cent.
For 20 years, researchers followed 2,000 middle-aged men (42-60 years). During this period, it became clear that those who sauna bathed regularly had a significantly lower risk both to suffer and to die from cardiovascular diseases of various kinds. The participants who bathed lived noticeably longer. The effect was more evident the more often a person had spent time in the sauna. The study was led by Dr. Jari Laukannen, cardiologist at the University of Eastern Finland.
– This relationship was still strong even when other potential variables were included in the analyses, he says.
The mechanisms explaining why sauna baths seem to have such a positive effect on cardiovascular health are still unknown to the researchers behind the study.
– Further research will be needed to investigate this, says Dr. Jari Lukannen.
Dr. Rita Redberg is a cardiologist at the University of California and editor of the journal that published the study; JAMA Internal Medicine.
– I have always enjoyed the sauna, but I had no idea that the health benefits were this dramatic, she says to Reuters.
Dr. Rita Redberg mentions the relaxation and the social aspects of sauna bathing as factors with a positive impact on health, in addition to the physiological effects of the baths.
– We still don’t know exactly the reason why the devoted sauna bathers lived longer, but the study clearly shows that the time spent in the sauna is well spent, she says.