tHE SCIENCE

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland tracked 2,300 middle-aged men for an average of 20 years. They categorized the men into three groups according to how often they used a sauna each week.

The men spent an average of 14 minutes per visit baking in 175° F heat. Over the course of the study, 49% of men who went to a sauna once a week died, compared with 38% of those who went two to three times a week and just 31% of those who went four to seven times a week. Frequent visits to a sauna were also associated with lower death rates from cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Elevated biomarkers of inflammation are commonly observed in people who have depression. Chronic activation of the body’s inflammatory response system promotes the development of depressive symptoms and induces changes in brain and neuroendocrine function. Sauna use has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression.

In a randomized controlled trial involving 28 people diagnosed with mild depression, participants who received four weeks of sauna sessions experienced reduced symptoms of depression – such as improved appetite and reduced body aches and anxiety – compared to the control group, which received bedrest instead of sauna therapy

There are several autoimmune disease symptoms eased with regular sauna use. This data is supported by clinical trials. Dry Finnish Sauna benefits include and help with:

  • Quality of life for diabetics
  • Chronic pain and inflammation
  • Arthritis  – Osteo-arthritic & Rheumatoid
  • Sleep and mood disorders

The Sauna is a natural mood-booster. Through the combination of high heat exposure & the subsequent sweat you remove lots of toxins (for the lack of a better word!)

Regular sauna use has shown to lower risk associated with diseases related to cognitive decline such as Dementia & Alzheimer’s 

 

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Photo Martina Regan.

WHO SHOULD USE THE SAUNA?

Managing Pain & Injuries  – Sauna use can help speed up muscle recovery. The increased growth hormone could be one factor behind this.

In animal studies, heat exposure was shown to slow muscle wastage in immobile limbs. While heat also helps regrow damaged muscle

People looking to improve their Heart Health – A five-year study, on a population size of 2315  men, found that those who used the sauna multiple times a week decreased their likely hood of heart disease.

Heart disease is one of the Irelands top killers

Photo Martina Regan.

Cardiovascular Health

The reduction in stress levels when using a sauna may be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular events. One study, conducted in Finland, followed 2,315 men ages 42 to 60 over the course of 20 years. Findings suggested that people who use a sauna may have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Of the participants in the study, a total of 878 died from cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, or sudden cardiac death. Participants were categorized by how often they used a sauna, including once a week, two to three times a week, and four to seven times a week. After adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, increased sauna use was linked with a reduced risk of fatal cardiovascular-related diseases. Participants who used the sauna two to three times a week were 22 percent less likely to experience sudden cardiac death than those who only used it once a week. Those who used a sauna four to seven times a week were 63 percent less likely to experience sudden cardiac death and 50 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who only used a sauna once a week.

Avoiding Cognitive Decline

Normal cognitive function relies on sufficient blood flow to the brain and peripheral nervous system, so cardiovascular diseases and cognitive decline often go hand-in-hand. For example, hypertension alters the structure of cerebral blood vessels and impairs blood flow to the brain. Poor cerebral blood flow is commonly observed in mice and humans and may contribute to impaired amyloid-beta clearance, thereby accelerating the progression of Alzheimer's disease. In addition, heat exposure increases the production of BDNF to promote neurogenesis – the growth of new neurons in the brain (as described above). Findings from a large observational study of middle-aged men living in Finland demonstrated that men who used the sauna four to seven times per week had a 65 percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, compared to men who used the sauna only one time per week.

Reduces Blood Pressure
(HypertensioN)

hypertension, defined as a systolic pressure of 130 mm Hg or higher, or a diastolic pressure of 80 mm Hg or higher, is a chronic elevation of blood pressure. It is a robust predictor of future incidence of stroke, coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and cardiovascular-related death. Central to the pathophysiology of hypertension is the loss of arterial compliance, or elasticity, which can have far-reaching effects on multiple organ systems, including the brain and kidneys. A common element among sauna users, however, is lower incidence of hypertension through improvements in arterial compliance. For example, men who used the sauna two to three sessions every week were found to have a 24 percent lower risk of developing hypertension, and men who used the sauna four to seven times per week had a 46 percent lower risk for hypertension, compared to men who used the sauna only once per week. Just a single sauna session has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve arterial compliance. As such, sauna use may serve as a non-pharmacological means to address, or even prevent, hypertension.

Lower risk of Alzheimer's & Dementia

Normal cognitive function relies on sufficient blood flow to the brain and peripheral nervous system, so cardiovascular diseases and cognitive decline often go hand-in-hand. For example, hypertension alters the structure of cerebral blood vessels and impairs blood flow to the brain. Poor cerebral blood flow is commonly observed in mice and humans and may contribute to impaired amyloid-beta clearance, thereby accelerating the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Boosts mental Clarity

Two key players in cognitive and mental function are norepinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter produced in the brain, and prolactin, a hormone released by the pituitary gland. Norepinephrine enhances focus and attention, while prolactin promotes myelin growth, which makes the brain function faster, a critical feature in repairing nerve cell damage. When young men stayed in a sauna that was heated to 80°C (176°F) until subjective exhaustion, their norepinephrine levels increased by 310 percent. Levels of cortisol, a hormone commonly associated with the stress response, were slightly decreased.

Lowers Inflammation

Inflammation is a critical element of the body's immune response that involves immune cells, cell-signaling proteins, and pro-inflammatory factors. Acute inflammation occurs after minor injuries or infections and is characterized by local redness, swelling, or fever. Chronic inflammation occurs on the cellular level in response to toxins or other stressors and is often “invisible.” It plays a key role in the development of many chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

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