A new study finds sauna lovers could be reaping heart health benefits.
Once you enter a sauna, the hot dry heat immediately starts affecting you. Your body starts heating up, the sweat begins flowing and your heart rate increases to 100-150 beats a minute.
Researchers in Finland have been following more than 1,600 middle-aged men for roughly 22 years. Those who frequently enjoyed saunas between 4 and 7 times a week had a 46 percent lower risk of high blood pressure when compared with men who only took a sauna once a week.
Men who enjoyed a sauna two to three times a week also benefited - they showed a 24 percent lower risk of high blood pressure.
Frequent sauna bathing seems to improve the inside of blood vessels. The heat increases body temperature which may help blood vessels to widen, allowing blood to flow easier.
Overall, saunas are safe for most people but there are a few things I want you to know so here are my prescriptions:
- Don’t drink alcohol before, during or after using a sauna. Your risk of dehydration, arrhythmia and sudden death increases.
- If you haven’t been in a sauna before, take it easy starting off at 5 minutes. You can work your way up to 15 or 20 minutes, but if you start to feel a bit ill, please exit quickly.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water. Between 2 and 4 glasses should be enough to replace lost fluids from sweating.
- Avoid saunas if you’re not feeling well. If you’re pregnant, have low blood pressure or known heart issues, you should talk to your doctor first.
This study involved Finnish saunas, which tend to be hotter and dryer. But regardless of what sauna you step into, or how often you use one, you’ll still gain health benefits as your body and mind relaxes, unwinds and destresses.