Study Shows Saunas Boost Men’s Health

As if we needed one more reason to adore the sauna experience, a new study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland found that frequent sessions in the steam-soaked chamber could reduce men’s risk of dementia.

In a 20-year follow-up, men using the sauna four to seven times a week were 66 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those who steamed only once a week — a promising discovery, as the relationship between sauna use and dementia risk had never been explored before.

The Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD) involved more than 2,000 middle-aged men living in the eastern part of Finland, and found that not only was the risk for dementia lower for those who clock more sauna hours, but their risk of Alzheimer’s was also 65 per cent lower than the once-a-week bathers.

Previously, the KIHD also found that the relaxation method also drastically reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death and overall cardiac mortality. Prof. Jari Laukkanen, the leader of the study, claims that sauna bathing may protect both the heart and the memory to some extent via similar, still poorly known mechanisms.

“However, it is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well,” says Prof. Laukkanen. “The sense of wellbeing and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role.”

While this study doesn’t shed any more light on the more negative associations between saunas and men’s health — that frequent bathing reduces sperm count, as found by another Finnish study — it still gives us one more reason to indulge in that misty, aromatic haven this holiday season.

www.uef.fi

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Amanda Storey

Amanda Storey