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Are Saunas Good For You?

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Saunas may be incredibly good for you according to recent research [1].

According to research – saunas may improve athletic endurance, prevent muscle wasting, improve insulin sensitivity (preventing diabetes), increase nerve production and repair, improve learning and memory and increase longevity.

A study investigated 2,000 Finnish men over the course of 20 years and investigated the effects of saunas on cardiovascular disease. The study found that men who used saunas 4-7 times a week had a 50% decrease in cardiovascular disease and a 40% reduction in all cause mortality compared to men who used saunas only once a week. Men who used a sauna 2-3 times a week and a 24% reduction in all cause mortality. The sauna temperature in this study was hot at 79 degrees and the duration was up to or exceeding 20 minutes.

Some of the positive effects that sauna use has on heart health may be related to the positive effects physical exercises has on heart health. A moderate sauna session can increase the heart rate to 100 beats per minute, and a more intense session to 150. That’s fast and the latter is correspondent to moderate physical exercise which has been proven to improve blood pressure and heart function.

The science

Saunas can increase how long will live by upping expression of heat shock proteins which maintain the structure of proteins within our cells. This makes cells resistant to damage by everyday living.

Secondly, using a sauna activates a well known longevity gene called foxo3. Foxo3 is associated with longevity. People who have more foxo3 have an increased chance of living to be 100. It’s a master regulator of many genes. It protects against DNA damage. DNA damage can lead to a mutation and when a cell has a mutation it can replicate and lead to cancer.

Therefore, through these processes, evidence suggests that saunas can protect our cells and DNA and therefore can make us live longer.

References

1. Laukkanen T, et al. Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Apr;175(4):542-8.

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