New year is always the start of new beginnings. Whether you want to concentrate next year more on physical or mental health, reduce your stress levels, or focus on spending quality time with family – Finnish sauna might be a solution for all of this. Years of scientific research has proven that the Finnish sauna lifestyle has positive health effects on many health aspects.

A sauna a day keeps the doctor away. Well, maybe it is not that simple, but it does pay off to frequently take a sauna.

Sauna is good for your heart

Taking a sauna is comparable to light or medium exercise, so every moment spent in moderation is beneficial for the heart. If the weather is really bad and you are not in the mood for a run, going to the sauna can be an alternative to jogging. Sauna bathing increases blood circulation and the flexibility of the veins. Did you know that people who go to sauna 4-7 times a week for at least 15 minutes are 51% less likely to suffer a cardiovascular death?

The brain is grateful for regular sauna bathing

Going to the Finnish sauna regularly can even help in preventing serious psychological problems.
People who go to sauna 4-7 times a week are 66% less likely to get dementia or Alzheimer’s and 65% less likely to suffer a brain stroke. Similarly, those people are 78% less likely to suffer from symptoms of psychosis. It is still a bit unclear how the sauna bathing actually affects the brain. It could be an actual physical effect, or just the fact that sauna bathing is pleasant and relaxing.

Sauna has an ability to promote mental health and well-being

Finnish sauna experience has traditionally been used for the purposes of pleasure and relaxation. And not without a reason. The feelings of well-being and relaxation in and after sauna might be linked to the increased production of circulating levels of hormones such as endorphins.

Photo: Anna Ruotanen/ Sauna from Finland

Even though the sauna is a place for quietness and calmness, it still has positive effects on one’s sociability. In an analysis of over 80 years old men (Strandberg et al., 2018), the social functioning, among other things, was considerably better for sauna users than for those who did not use the sauna.

Eat, sauna, sleep, repeat

Sauna bathing increases the amount of deep sleep, and the relaxation sauna brings makes falling to sleep easier. The effect is immediate by giving overwhelming feelings of calmness and mindfulness for the bather. This improves sleep and cognitive performance. The positive effects can last even up to two nights post sauna bathing.

Credit: Finnmark Sauna
Regular sauna bathers enjoy a boosted immune system

Regular sauna bathers suffer from flu symptoms less often than people who do not go to sauna regularly and have a lower CRP. So if you want to be more sure about not catching a flu, make sure to add regular sauna bathing to your list of preventive measures. Going to sauna when sick is not recommended. Sauna only works preventively and does not help if you are already sneezing and coughing because of a common cold. More research on sauna’s effect on the immune system still needs to be conducted.

Sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality

Research evidence suggests that sauna bathing reduces the risk of high blood pressure or hypertension. These beneficial effects have been linked to its positive impact on circulatory and cardiovascular functions. Having frequent sauna baths also reduces risk of fatal cardiovascular outcomes.

The soft, humid heat can make breathing easier for those suffering from e.g. asthma

The soft humid heat of a sauna is gentle for your lungs. Many who suffer from asthma have found the sauna a place for easier breathing. Because the sauna increases the flexibility of arteria, regular sauna bathing can also prevent getting asthma or a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Do you have a habit of going to sauna after doing sports?

Thinking of going to sauna after exercising? Not a bad idea at all! The relaxing heat of the sauna releases muscle pain and tension. In some cases, sauna has helped in treatment of headaches, pain caused by rheumatism, and fibromyalgia. Still, if suffering from some of the above, it is important to sauna bathe with caution.

Maybe you could make adding regular sauna bathes to your lifestyle your New Year’s resolution? Read more about Finnish sauna and how to get one for yourself in Happy New Year 2021!


Cernych, M, Satas, A., & Brazaitis, M. (2018). Post-sauna recovery enhances brain neural network relaxation and improves cognitive economy in oddball tasks. International Journal of Hypothermia, 32(1), 375-382.

Hussain, J., Greaves, R., & Cohen, M. (2019). A hot topic for health: Results of the Global Sauna Survey. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 44, 223-234.

Kräuchi, K. & Wirz-Justice, a. (2001). Circadian clues to sleep onset mechanisms. Neuropsychopharmacology, 25(5), 92-96.

Laukkanen, T., Kunutsor, S. K., Khan, H., Willeit, P., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2018). Sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality and improves risk prediction in men and women: a prospective cohort study. BMC Medicine, 16(219).

Laukkanen, J., Laukkanen, T., & Kunutsor, S. K. (2018). Cardiovascular and other health benefits of sauna bathing: a review of the evidence. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 93(8), 1111-1121.

Laukkanen, T. & Laukkanen, J. (2020). Sauna, keho ja mieli. Docendo, Jyväskylä.

Strandberg, T., Strandberg, A., Pitkälä, K., & Benetos, A. (2018). Sauna bathing, health, and quality of life among octogenarian men: the Helsinki Businessmen Study. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 30(9), 1053-1057.

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