Do Saunas Actually Make You Healthier? (A Science-Backed Look)
In the US, saunas really aren’t all that popular. During the early part of the 20th century, there was an increase in popularity, but recently, interest has waned.
On the other hand, saunas have been a mainstay among those living in Scandinavia for thousands of years, and they’re particularly common and popular in Finland.
So it’s no surprise that a group of Finnish researchers conducted the following (very interesting and telling) study:
Saunas Save Lives
In the study, researchers followed 2,315 people over about 21 years. They surveyed the participants to see how often they used a sauna.
Because the participants were from Finland, they used saunas a lot more than you might expect. Participants were divided into 3 groups:
1. Group 1 used a sauna about 1 time per week.
2. Group 2 used a sauna 2-3 times per week.
3. Group 3 used a sauna 4-7 times per week.
The researchers then tracked a few things over the 21-year period, including both death from cardiac events (heart attacks, strokes, etc.) and death from any cause.
For Group 1, 22.3% died from cardiovascular disease. For Groups 2 and 3, the statistics were 16.4% and 12.0%, respectively.
For death from any cause, 49.1% of Group 1 died within the 21 years, 37.8% of Group 2 died, and only 30.8% of Group 3 died.
As you can see, that’s a HUGE difference. If you used a sauna 4-7 times per week, you were much less likely to die than if you used a sauna only one time per week.
A Grain of Salt
Although the researchers tried to control for various variables, the study was only an observation. What I mean by that is that the study only observed a correlation between people who use a sauna often and lower death rate. It doesn’t prove that the use of the sauna was the reason why they were less likely to die.
The actual cause could definitely be something that the researchers didn’t account for. Perhaps people who use saunas frequently are also much better about eating healthy and exercising.
Still, it’s a pretty significant correlation, and personally, it makes me want to start using a sauna more often. After all, there are other health benefits and relatively few downsides if you’re careful about not getting dehydrated or staying in too long.
Images: Copyright (c) kobernykb from Fotolia