Going to the sauna may have its health benefits, new research suggests.
Men seeking to flush out toxins from their body at least four times a week reduce their blood pressure by nearly 50 per cent.
It is believed the steam-filled rooms help to dilate blood vessels, and help adults overcome their stress.
University of Eastern Finland researchers claim their results offer an alternative way of slashing blood pressure and avoiding heart disease.
Patients with hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, are often recommended to adopt a healthy diet and exercise more.
Men who visit saunas four times a week reduce their blood pressure by nearly 50 per cent
Evidence already shows that frequent sauna bathing can reduce the risk of heart disease – the world’s leading killer.
The new findings, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, bolster the research that shows this link.
Elevated blood pressure is documented to be one of the most important risk factors of cardiovascular diseases.
Hypertension affects more than 17 million adults in Britain. In the US, it strikes around 75 million, figures suggest.
How was the study carried out?
The study involved 1,621 middle-aged men. All had blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg – deemed the sign of hypertension.
All the participants were split into three groups: those taking a sauna once a week, two to three times a week, or four to seven times a week.
SAUNAS TO PREVENT DEMENTIA
Frequent sauna bathing can reduce the risk of dementia, the same Finnish researchers claimed in December.
Men taking a sauna four to seven times a week were 66 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those taking a sauna once a week.
The 20-year follow-up study from the University of Eastern Finland was the first to link sauna bathing to dementia risk.
According to Professor Jari Laukkanen, who led the research, it could have a double benefit, protecting both the heart and memory.
‘It is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well,’ he said.
‘The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role.’
During an average follow-up of 22 years, some 15.5 per cent of the men developed clinically defined hypertension.
What did they find?
The risk of having high blood pressure was decreased by 24 per cent among men who went to the sauna two to three times a week.
For those who visited a sauna four to seven times a week, the risk of high blood pressure was slashed by 46 per cent.
How do saunas slash blood pressure?
The researchers believe sauna bathing decreases blood pressure through different biological mechanisms.
During sauna bathing, the body temperature may rise up to 2°C (36°F), causing vessels vasodilation – the dilation of blood vessels.
Regular sauna bathing also improves endothelial function – the function of the inside layer of blood vessels, which has beneficial effects on blood pressure.
Sauna bathing may also lower systemic blood pressure due to overall relaxation of the body and mind, the researchers said.
Lead author Professor Jari Laukkanen, a cardiologist in the university’s department of medicine, told MailOnline: ‘This is really great news.’
The same team of researchers last year found a link between visiting the sauna frequently and a lower risk of developing dementia.