Sweat it off! Sauna bathing has powerful cardiovascular benefits

Having a visit to the sauna is more than just relaxing; it could also provide protection to your cardiovascular system.

In a study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, it was revealed that a 30-minute sauna session can help reduce blood pressure and significantly cut the risk of heart disease. Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland looked at the effects of a 20-minute sauna session on 102 participants.

For the study, they measured the participants’ blood pressure prior to, immediately after, and 30 minutes after the sauna session.

Based on the results, the systolic blood pressure of the participants declined from an average of 137 mmHg to 130 mmHg. Moreover, their diastolic blood pressure also decreased from 82 mmHg to 75 mmHg. The researchers noted that the drop was still in effect even 30 minutes after the sauna session.

Furthermore, the researchers evaluated the participants’ carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, which is a measure of arterial stiffness. Results revealed that it became significantly lower after the sauna. This effect indicated that the sauna session resulted in a beneficial relaxation of arteries that enables blood to flow more freely, which in turn leads to a higher cardiac output. During the sauna session, the heart rates of the participants also increased to a level seen with a medium-intensity workout.

The findings of the study verified the established the findings of earlier studies showing the benefits of regular sauna bathing. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2015 revealed that sauna bathing was linked to a lower risk of sudden cardiac death and fatal coronary heart disease. (Related: Going to the sauna 4-7x a week can reduce your risk of a stroke by 61%.)

Sauna and its other health benefits

Sauna bathing is not only good for the cardiovascular system, but also for the brain. Even a 15-minute sauna session can help. One study published in the journal Age and Aging in 2017 evaluated the effects of regular 15-minute sessions on over 2,300 healthy men between 42 and 60 years old.

The researchers found that sauna bathing was linked to a significant reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. More specifically, visiting the sauna two to three times a week slashes the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 20 percent.

The reductions in Alzheimer’s disease risk increases with more sauna visits. The researchers found that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was cut by 65 percent in participants who went to the sauna for four to seven times each week.

Sauna also offers anticancer effects. Sauna baths have been known to provide a form of heat therapy that may combat cancer. The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute acknowledge that heat therapy is a promising therapeutic approach to help improve the health of cancer patients undergoing treatment.

According to experts, sauna produces heat that creates “heat shock” protein on the surface of cancer cells, which softens them up for attack by the immune system. In addition, heat from the sauna helps stimulate natural killer cells and macrophages that fight tumors. Furthermore, sweating induced by the sauna also helps the body get rid of toxins, heavy metals, environmental toxins, and cancer-causing agents. A sauna use can increase the skin temperature to about 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

The use of sauna started thousands of years ago, and sauna baths are still popular today especially in Finland. Typically, a sauna is a room heated between 70 and 100 degrees Celsius or 158 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit. In traditional Finnish saunas, dry heat with a relative humidity between 10 and 20 percent is often used; while the moisture is higher in other sauna types. Keep in mind that a person with an existing cardiovascular problem or who is pregnant should seek medical advice first before going to the sauna.

Find more methods of preventing heart problems at HeartDisease.news.

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