Scientists say saunas reduce the risk of coronary diseases and sudden cardiac death, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, respiratory diseases and inflammation.
They studied 100 volunteers with a mean age of 51.9 years who had at least one cardiovascular risk factor.
The volunteers had a single sauna lasting 30 minutes at 163F (73C) and humidity of 10 to 20 per cent.
Measurements were made from the carotid and femoral artery before the sauna, immediately afterwards and following 30 minutes of recovery.
Emerging evidence suggests beneficial effects of sauna bathing on the cardiovascular system
Professor of cardiology Jari Laukkanen from the University of Eastern Finland
The study found a sauna session led to reductions in pulse wave velocity – a measure of arterial stiffness – and blood pressure.
Immediately after the session, the volunteers’ mean systolic blood pressure went down from 137 millimetres of mercury to 130 – which remained lower even after 30 minutes.
Their diastolic blood pressure fell from 82 to 75mm and mean arterial pressure from 99.4 to 93.6mm.
During the sauna their heart rate increased from 65 to 81 beats per minute, just like it would during medium-intensity exercise, and their body temperature rose by approximately 2C.
Scientists found that saunas increased the heart rate to the level of a medium-intensity workout (GETTY STOCK)
Yesterday, professor of cardiology Jari Laukkanen, from the University of Eastern Finland said: “Emerging evidence suggests beneficial effects of sauna bathing on the cardiovascular system.
“We aimed to investigate changes in arterial stiffness, blood pressure and several blood-based biomarkers.
“This study demonstrates that sauna bathing for 30 minutes has beneficial effects.” The findings were published in the Journal of Human Hypertension and the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.