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 affects positively 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. It also 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 going to 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 longer and healthier life. The results indicate that among 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 compared to 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. It leads to improving the functioning of the circulatory system, balancing blood pressure and bringing relaxation over the entire body.3 Moreover, the sauna is not just a trainer for the fittest. For example, plenty of patients with existing heart problems are also welcome to enter, although they should ask their doctor first for a specific permission to do so.4
The respiratory system as well seems to like the refreshing effect of sauna. Some studies have found that it eases asthma symptoms. 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 going to sauna regularly is related to staying safe from the flu. Sauna-goers had 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