Staying healthy need not make you always follow a tough regime of restrictions as a new study shows that frequent sauna bathing may significantly reduce the risk of stroke.
In the 15-year follow-up study, published in the journal Neurology, the researchers found that people taking a sauna four to seven times a week were 61 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those taking a sauna once a week.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, placing a heavy human and economic burden on societies.
According to the researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, mechanisms driving the association of sauna bathing with reduced stroke may include a reduction in blood pressure, stimulation of immune system, a positive impact on the autonomic nervous system, and an improved cardiovascular function.
The study involved 1,628 men and women aged 53 to 74 years living in the eastern part of Finland.
Based on their frequency of taking traditional Finnish sauna baths (relative humidity 10-20 percent), the study participants were divided into three groups – those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna two or three times a week, and those taking a sauna four to seven times a week.
The more frequently saunas were taken, the lower was the risk of stroke, the results showed.
Compared to people taking one sauna session per week, the risk was decreased by 14 percent among those with two to three sessions and 61 percent among those with four to seven sessions.
Previous studies had shown that frequent sauna bathing also significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.