Researchers from universities in Finland recently conducted a study, published in the BMC Medicine journal, to explore the relationship between sauna bathing and cardiovascular disease risk, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
To do so, they examined the health data of more than 1,688 adults, with an average age of 63, from 1998 to 2015. The participants then completed surveys, which asked questions about how often they frequented the sauna.
After analyzing the results, they found using saunas four to seven times a week was associated with a lower chance of developing heart disease, compared to those who only went once a week.
Furthermore, those who spent more than 45 minutes in a sauna per week had a lower heart disease risk, compared to people who just spent 15 minutes per week in a sauna.
“An important finding of this research is that more regular sauna use is associated with a lower risk of death from CVD (cardiovascular disease) in middle-aged to elderly women as well as in men,” co-author Jari Laukkanen said in a statement.
“There are several possible reasons why sauna use may decrease the risk of death due to CVD,” Laukkanen continued. “Our research team has shown in previous studies that high sauna use is associated with lower blood pressure. Additionally, sauna use is known to trigger an increase in heart rate equal to that seen in low to moderate intensity physical exercise.”
The team noted some limitations. They acknowledged the information they assessed was self-reported and was only from one region. For future investigations, they hope to expand their findings by evaluating other adults across the world.