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A new study out of Finland has found that the more time men spend in a sauna, the healthier they were, according to a Reuters report.
The study followed more than 2,000 men over a period of 20 years and found that those who spent time in a dry-heat sauna seven times a week were much less likely to die of heart disease and heart attacks than men who visited only once a week or none at all.
Dr. Jari Laukkanen, a cardiologist at the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, told Reuters that the magic number seems to be more than four sauna visits a week. But even a couple of sweaty sessions may produce health benefits – something non-Finns may find difficult to accomplish in a culture not accustomed to regular saunas.
Why saunas may help
While the study did not suggest a proven causal link, the author speculated that the known benefits that come with relaxation and socializing might play a role. The heat is also believed to improve circulation.
It might be the relaxing and socializing that actually provides some of the benefit, researchers think, and you don't need a sauna for that. But for the heat improving circulation, you do. And in the traditional Finnish sauna you get both. He suggested to Reuters that women would likely experience similar positive benefits as the men in the study.
Previous research has suggested saunas are even safe and beneficial for people with mild heart failure, according to a Harvard piece on the new study.
A no-no that shows up in this and other scientific papers on saunas: Drinking alcohol while kicking back, which can be deadly. If you have low-blood pressure and or are dehydrated, skip the sauna, because you could be at risk for fainting. And that’s not healthy at all.
For more, read up on how to improve your heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.