Welcome back to the Health Benefits of Sauna series, where we discuss the different wellbeing enhancing aspects of the Finnish sauna experience. Part two of the series addresses sauna’s numerous effects on your body’s activities. Did you know that sauna has been proven to positively affect people’s longevity?
Sitting in the sauna strengthens and speeds up both blood flow and pulse in the same vein as exercise. Simultaneously, it also shelters the heart. That is why committing to sauna bathing offers permanent and powerful protection from serious conditions concerning cardiac health and allows the maintenance of one’s wellbeing, even amidst limitations in life situation or physical ableness. On the other hand, doing moderately heavy physical activity ahead of taking a sauna makes it an even more effective guardian of the body.
Laukkanen’s study shows numerous positive effects
In recent years, especially research projects lead by cardiologist Jari Laukkanen have shown how sauna as a routine serves a lengthtier and healthier life. The results indicate that amongst middle-aged men who go to sauna 4-7 times a week, the probability of suffering from hypertension or fatal cardiovascular conditions – such as coronary heart disease – is about half the risk carried by those who pop into the heat only once every 7 days.
The sauna enthusiasts also had 40% less mortality and over 60% less sudden heart-associated deaths during the years observed in the study. Likewise, the relatively long duration of sauna sessions had a link with the avoidance of fatal cardiovascular diseases and sudden cardiac death.1
To generalize these findings, the more time one spends sitting next to the sauna stove, the more resistant their heart becomes. However, measurements state that a single sauna visit already causes some momentary yet very favorable changes in arterial stiffness and blood pressure.2
Sauna not just for the fittest
The researchers assume that the main mechanisms reinforcing the cardiac health of saunagoers are heat-related and include its ability to improve the functioning of the circulatory system, balance blood pressure and bring relaxation over the entire body.3 Moreover, the steamroom is not just a trainer for the fittest. For example, plenty of patients with existing heart problems are also welcome to enter, albeit they should ask their doctor first for a specific permission to do so.4
The respiratory system seems to like the refreshing effect of sauna, too. Some have found that it eases asthma symptoms, and one of the many studies by Laukkanen prove that visiting the sauna often reduces the chance of having asthma, chronic pulmonary disease and pneumonia for middle-aged Caucasian men.5
Additionally, it appears that taking a sauna regularly is related to staying safe from the flu as well as having lesser amounts of C-reactive protein, also known as CRP, in the body.6 Increased levels of CRP usually occur with acute systemic inflammations and are also associated with cardiovascular diseases.
The organic blaze of the sauna stove softly pets and treats muscles, joints and the skin. More on this in the next part of the series.
Be sure to also read our first article on the sauna health benefits series.
- https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2130724 & https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28633297
- https://saunafromfinland.fi/uutiset/jos-et-ehdi-liikkua-tarpeeksi-kay-edes-saunassa-tutkimukset-vahvistavat-saunan-monet-terveyshyodyt (in Finnish) & https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/01/20/saunas-are-a-hot-trend-and-they-might-even-help-your-health
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11165553 & https://www.iltalehti.fi/terveysuutiset/a/201806192200986060 (in Finnish)
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2248758 & https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29209938