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Sauna Science: 3 Incredible Benefits To Getting Sweaty

Most people know that the occasional sauna session is healthy, but fewer people know why. You may have heard that the sauna detoxifies the body of heavy metals and harmful chemicals; however, this is just one of several benefits associated with sauna use. Read on to learn about three evidence-based reasons why you should embrace the heat.


1. Longevity

Will using the sauna actually make you live longer? The science says yes. One study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that sustained use of the sauna is associated with longer living. The study followed over 2,000 middle-aged men for about 20 years and made some significant discoveries.


According to the study, men who used the sauna two to three times per week had a 24% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to men who used the sauna just once a week. Furthermore, men who used the sauna four to seven times per week had a 40% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to men who used the sauna just once a week.


What is all-cause mortality? It means that for the participants being studied they had 40% less mortality from all causes than other people of a similar age not being subjected to the conditions of the trial.

2. Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and many other countries. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 659,000 people die from heart disease in the United States every year: 1 in every 4 deaths! Improving heart health is in the interest of everyone and you’ll be glad to know the sauna does just that.


According to the same report, men who used the sauna two to three times per week had a 27% lower risk of fatal cardiovascular disease compared to men who used the sauna just once a week. Furthermore, men who used the sauna four to seven times per week had a 50% lower risk of fatal cardiovascular disease compared to men who used the sauna just once a week.


The positive benefits of sauna use on heart health may be linked to the similar benefits seen in normal exercise. Heart rate in the sauna can increase up to 100 beats a minute in moderate sessions, and up to 150 beats a minute in more intense sessions. A heart rate of around 150 beats a minute corresponds to moderate-intensity exercise, which is known to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.

3. Brain Aging

One characteristic of aging is that we just don’t feel as sharp mentally. It has been shown that cognitive ability trends downward as we age. To combat this downward trend and maintain cognitive function sauna use is key. The same group that studied over 2,000 individuals’ sauna use found an interesting association that they published later in another paper.

They found that men who used the sauna two to three times per week had a 22% lower risk of dementia and a 20% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared to men who used the sauna just once a week. Furthermore, men who used the sauna four to seven times per week had a 66% lower risk of dementia and a 65% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared to men who used the sauna just once a week.


Heat from the sauna activates a class of stress response proteins called heat shock proteins (HSPs). HSPs help to prevent the accumulation of toxic protein aggregates, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.


Effective Dose

How long and how often should you sauna? For the minimum benefits of lower cardiovascular disease mortality, lower all-cause mortality, and lower Alzheimer’s disease risk we must address the literature that observed these effects. That would be 20 minutes at 174⁰ Fahrenheit/79⁰ Celsius two to three times per week. Keep in mind that those who used the sauna four to seven times per week experienced an even greater effect.


Please go forward with good judgement. If you have some type of medical condition all bets are off. Even if you don’t have a medical condition of concern it’s reasonably worth checking in with a physician before becoming a mega sauna enthusiast.

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