Sometimes good health and pleasure exquisitely unite. Such is the case with the penetrating heat of a Finnish-style dry sauna, at least when it comes to dying of heart problems.
Researchers in Finland recruited 2,300 men to study the benefits of regular, long-term sauna use. The results show that men who used a sauna two to thee times a week had about a 22 percent reduced risk of dying of a sudden cardiac event compared with men who only used a sauna once a week. Men who used a sauna four to seven times a week had a 63 percent reduced risk of dying of a sudden cardiac event. Risk of sudden cardiac death declined for men whose saunas lasted longer than 11 minutes, compared with men who took shorter saunas. The study also found that men who took more frequent saunas lived longer than did those you took less frequent saunas.
Researchers were only able to speculate as to why sauna use seems beneficial. It may be because the heart rate generally increases during sauna use to a level that’s similar to low to moderately intense exercise. Sauna use also appears to help lower blood pressure, improve function of blood vessels and affect the nervous system in a way that reduces risk of heart rhythm problems. It’s also possible that other factors contribute to the benefit, including simple relaxation or the social aspect involved in using a public sauna or sauna at a health club.
Source: Mayo Clinic Health Letter March 2016
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