Middle-aged men who take frequent saunas are around half as likely to die from heart conditions as those who do not, according to a new study. The study was conducted among 2,315 men aged 42 to 60 from eastern Finland, where there is a strong sauna tradition.Regular sessions also appear to protect against early deaths from any cause, lowering the risk by 40 per cent for those having a once-daily sauna.
Even compared with men who took one sauna a week, their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was 50 per cent lower.
Researchers followed their progress for around 21 years comparing death rates between those who went to the sauna once a week and others who made more frequent visits.
During the follow-up period they recorded 190 sudden cardiac deaths, 281 fatal cases of coronary heart disease, 407 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 929 deaths from ‘all causes’.
The risk of sudden cardiac death was found to be 22 per cent lower for men who had two to three sauna sessions per week and 66 per cent lower for those visiting a sauna four to seven times a week.
Dr Rita Redberg, from the University of California at San Francisco, who is the journal's editor-in-chief, said: Although we do not know why the men who took saunas more frequently had greater longevity (whether it is the time spent in the hot room, the relaxation time, the leisure of a life that allows for more relaxation time, or the camaraderie of the sauna), clearly time spent in the sauna is time well spent.’