Saunas are generally viewed as a somewhat popular way to relax. But suppose that all that time in the sauna was actually good for your heart? A study from Finland indicates that this may be the case.
Three Groups, Three Results
The report in question recruited roughly 1,600 middle-aged Finnish men. These participants were placed into one of three groups; one group was required to take sauna baths four to seven times a week, one made two or three sauna trips, while the third only visited the sauna once weekly.
On average, the study authors reviewed over two decades worth of follow up data on each subject. Thanks to this data, the team was able to document the presence of hypertension (high blood pressure) in 15 percent of their participants.
However, the study authors observed a possible correlation between sauna baths and high blood pressure; that is, the more a subject visited a sauna, the less at risk he was to be diagnosed with hypertension.
When compared with those who took the fewest sauna baths, men who sweated through two or three saunas were 24 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure. For those making four to seven sauna trips, this gap expanded to 46 percent.
More Work to be Done?
The American Journal of Hypertension published this team’s work. The authors caution that their research doesn’t conclusively link sauna baths to lower blood pressure. One reason for this lack of a concrete link is that the study focused solely on men from Eastern Finland. Moreover, the participants all had prior experience with sauna bathing. Given this fact, the researchers conclude that “Further studies are needed to confirm our results in different population settings, including women and among those who are not familiar to regular sauna bathing.”