Posted on 09/25/2019 in Other

Regular Saunas Could be Good for Your Heart Health

Regular Saunas Could be Good for Your Heart Health

If you love nothing more than relaxing in the heat of a sauna, then we have some good news for you. Recent studies have shown that taking regular saunas could be good for your health. Apparently, this can help reduce your risk of developing chronic and acute conditions. During a study carried out a couple of years ago, scientists in Finland followed the sauna habits of more than 2000 men and tracked their health for more than 20 years. They discovered that those who were using saunas regularly had a dramatically lower number of deaths due to heart disease or stroke. 

Another follow-up study also found that regular sauna sessions could help reduce the risk of dementia. A more recent study looked at the health of more than 1600 men over the course of 22 years. Those found to have regular saunas which are between four and seven times a week were shown to have a lower risk of high blood pressure. The risk of high blood pressure was up to 50% lower.

It is not yet exactly clear why taking regular saunas could help reduce the risk of heart disease. One theory is that they help reduce one of the major risk factors for heart disease which is high blood pressure. When you have a sauna, it’s heat causes your heart rate to increase and the blood vessels dilate which helps to increase blood flow. This helps to improve cardiovascular function which could be why a sauna can help lower the risk of heart disease. 

Taking a sauna has been shown to produce similar effects to getting exercise which is well known for helping to prevent heart disease. Researchers also discovered that people who combine exercise and sauna afterward were at a substantially reduced risk of dying from any disease compared to those who took exercise or who just took saunas.

The same researchers who discovered a possible link between regular saunas and a reduced risk of heart disease also discovered potential benefits for other diseases. These included pneumonia, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and tension headaches.

An Ingrained Part of Culture in Finland

Saunas are a regular part of Finnish culture and in the country, there are as many television sets as saunas. Most saunas are in people’s homes but are also found in offices and factories so taking regular saunas is highly accessible. The researchers who conducted the study were also keen to point out that taking a sauna in Finland is a way to reduce stress and for centuries saunas have been a gathering place for family and friends. While in the sauna, etiquette demands that nobody swears or discusses controversial topics and this is a habit that is instilled in childhood. In other countries, this habit isn’t nearly so ingrained although many people do have access to a sauna at their local gym.

The heat in a Finnish style sauna is very dry with low humidity levels. This dry heat means you will begin sweating immediately and most people will lose approximately half a liter of sweat even during a brief sauna session. Because the sweat evaporates so fast in the dry atmosphere, it’s easy to underestimate the amount you are perspiring. The temperature of your skin usually rises to 104° within just a few minutes but the temperature inside your body rises more slowly and generally stays at less than 100°.

While you are in the sauna, pulse rate will accelerate by 30% or more and your heart could be pumping nearly double the amount of blood each minute. Most of this extra blood is directed towards your skin, keeping from affecting your internal organs and during this time your blood pressure may go up or down. Once you come out of the sauna, will quickly revert to normal as you begin to cool down. 

Is It Safe?

Canadian researchers looked into sauna safety, testing a group of people with known heart disease, comparing a treadmill test with a 15-minute sauna. Afterwards, they found none of the patients had abnormal heart rhythms or chest pain with either test. Despite this, you should always check with your cardiologist or heart doctor before using a sauna. While most people will be okay, those with advanced heart failure or who have extensive heart problems may be better advised to stay out of the heat.

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