Saunas May Lower Risk of Dementia and Heart Disease

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Using a sauna several days a week can help to keep dementia away, according to a new study.

Flickr Image Courtesy: Kent Wang, CC BY-SA 2.0

Finnish researchers found that men who used a sauna four to seven times a week were 66 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

The study, published in the journal Age and Ageing, was the first of its kind, but researchers said further studies must be done to figure out the true link between sauna baths and memory.

“It is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well,” study lead author Jari Laukkanen told Science Daily. “The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role.”

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The participants in the study — 2,300 men between the ages of 42 and 60 — were divided into three groups. The first group used a sauna once a week, the second had the steam treatments two to three times a week, and the last group went four to seven times a week.

The frequent users were 66 percent likely to be plagued with any form of dementia and were 65 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Average temperatures in the sauna rooms stayed in the range of 174 degrees Fahrenheit/79 degrees Celsius. The men were followed for over two decades.

Sauna Use May Also Help You Live Longer

The same study also found that regular sauna use reaped additional health benefits like decreasing cardiovascular disease and adding years to your life.

Researchers found that study participants who used the sauna four times a week were half as likely to die from heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases, compared to men who used saunas just once a week.

Related: Your Voice Could Reveal If You Have Heart Disease

In addition, risks from death of any cause fell from 49 percent for the least frequent sauna users to 31 percent of those who went the most.

Cardiologist Dr. Rita Redberg says the overall relaxing  and community environment of saunas could also be a contributor to the positive health factors.

“The camaraderie they offer may also benefit health,” Redberg told the Associated Press “Clearly, time spent in the sauna is time well spent.”

Ronke Idowu Reeves
Ronke Idowu Reeves is a writer and journalist who hails from Brooklyn, NY. Her news and entertainment stories have appeared on WABC-TV-New York, Fox News Channel, VH1, BET.com plus in Sundance Film Festival’s Sundance Daily Insider and People Magazine.