Some like it hot. . .and perhaps more should because taking a regular sauna can have a big impact on our health. It protects against heart disease, lung problems, mental health disorders and, not surprisingly with all that, it also helps us live longer.
If that wasn't enough, sauna bathing also helps improve skin conditions, arthritis, headaches and the flu, say researchers from the University of Eastern Finland.
The researchers brought together all the previously-published research into sauna bathing, which involves brief exposure to very high temperatures, usually in the 80 to 100 degrees C range.
Sitting in a sauna for just a few minutes has similar health benefits as moderate-intensity exercises, such as a long walk, the researchers reckon. And combining the two—having a sauna after a walk, perhaps—has added health benefits compared to doing just one of the activities.
Regular sauna bathing has good effects on our circulation and respiratory systems, our cardiovascular and immune functions, and helps stabilize the autonomic nervous system, which controls breathing, circulation and digestion. It also reduces blood pressure, inflammation and arterial stiffness, an early sign of heart disease.
Sauna bathing also has a good safety profile, and it's even safe for someone with an existing heart condition, the researchers add.