Our bodies need cholesterol, but too much of it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. A Polish research team have now shown that regular sauna bathing helps lowering your cholesterol.
Healthy food and exercise are effective means to keep your cholesterol in control. But sometimes factors like age, injuries and other problems make exercising difficult. A team of researchers at the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Cracow has shown that regular sauna bathing also affects the cholesterol levels in a positive way. These positive effects are even comparable to those seen from regular, light exercise.
"Sauna bathing stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and provides some of the same physiological effects as physical exercise" Dorota Gryka and co-workers write in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health.
A group of 16 physically active men aged 20 to 23 years, all with similar body composition and proportion of adipose tissue in the body, were studied. The participants were asked not to change their eating habits, not to take any dietary supplements and not to drink alcohol during the course of the study. They completed a total of ten sauna bath sessions on a daily basis, each consisting of two 15-minute sauna baths with a 2-minute break in between.
"The results showed that regular sauna bathing leads to a statistically significant reduction in cholesterol" the researchers state in their report. The research team observed that when the participants stopped taking regular sauna baths, their cholesterol levels gradually returned to their initial levels.
– Sauna bathing stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and provides some of the same physiological effects as physical exercise.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a lipid, a fatty substance. Cholesterol is essential for the building of body cells but in too large doses it can result in significant health risks. It can form lipid lumps in the blood vessel walls and contribute to our most common cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, angina and stroke..