Hans Hägglund is a medical doctor and a professor at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. He is also the medical advisor of the Swedish Sauna Academy, and passionate about sharing his knowledge about sauna and health.
A sauna lover since childhood
Hans Hägglund is known in Sweden as the Sauna Doctor. Driven by his strong commitment to public health, he is one of the driving forces behind the world’s first sauna lab that is being built by the University of Luleå. It comes as no surprise when Hans Hägglund says he has been an avid sauna lover ever since he was very little.
“My father used to design public baths when I was a child, and I would always tag along. Sauna bathing has always been a natural part of everyday life for me.”
Today Hans Hägglund is a board member of the Swedish Sauna Academy, in the role of medical advisor. The Academy’s mission is to spread scientific knowledge about the health benefits of sauna, and to gather and share all new research findings in the field of sauna and health. Right now the focus lies on preparing for the World Sauna Congress, that for the first time ever will be held in Sweden this year. The international congress will take place in Haparanda in northern Sweden, and the focus of the conference will be health, culture and sauna history.
The world’s first sauna laboratory
Hans Hägglund notes that public as well as scientific interest in the health benefits of sauna is on the rise. A number of sensational discoveries have been made during the last couple of years, and at the moment Hans Hägglund is involved in founding the world’s first sauna lab in the north of Sweden. The research will focus exclusively on sauna and health, and will aim both to follow up on all the recent discoveries and to examine new questions and topics in the field of sauna and health.
”Among the most important findings that have been made recently are the connections between regular sauna baths and a dramatically lowered risk for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, stroke and cardiovascular diseases. This is something that really needs to be researched further, so that we can find out exactly how these connections works.”
Many of the recent findings have been made through a large, ongoing Finnish population study known as the Kuopio Study. In this study, a large number of people have been monitored for many years, and have regularly answered questions about their habits and their health. In the questionnaire, several questions regarding sauna habits are included, which is how the connections between sauna bathing and health were discovered. In Sweden, a similar study is being conducted, known as the Monica Study. Up until now, sauna bathing has not been included in the questionnaire, but from 2019 and onwards, it will be. Hans Hägglund considers this to be a step in a very positive direction.
”Today, as doctors we advice people to exercise, eat healthily and stop smoking. But very soon I think we might be adding regular sauna baths to our list of general health advice, considering how strong the benefits seem to be”
Hans Hägglund himself tries to find the time for a sauna at least four to five times every week. He takes a sauna bath at the gym after exercising, and he has his own sauna at his summerhouse.
”That’s my favorite kind of sauna - in the company of near and dear ones, and with a cooling lake to swim in right outside”