There are plenty of studies that show that sitting too long in one place is bad for your health.
Still, there is one place you should sit that can soothe the mind, improve your heart, add to your life-expectancy and even drop your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The healthiest place to sit: A sauna.
Researchers are uncovering some powerful benefits of regular sauna use. . .
For one thing, an analysis of sauna’s cardiovascular advantages demonstrates that it can keep the heart operating for years longer, and more effectively.
According to a 20-year study, sitting in a sauna four to seven times a week can make you 63% less likely to suffer a sudden fatal cardiac event. In an analysis of the health of about 2,000 middle-aged Finnish men, scientists found that those who visited a sauna several times a week not only died less frequently from heart attacks and other heart problems but also enjoyed longer life expectancy.1
And, in general, the longer these men stayed in the sauna, the more cardiovascular protection they enjoyed. The men who sat in a sauna for more than 19 minutes at a time multiple times weekly were 52% less likely to fall victim to sudden cardiac death than were those who only stayed for 11 minutes each time. (I can testify that 11 minutes is barely enough to break a sweat, and sweating is part of the point.)
These researchers admit that they can’t explain why being in a sauna protects the heart. But they note that saunas can lower blood pressure while making blood vessels less stiff and more flexible.
Live hot – and long
Besides cardiovascular protection, this research also indicates that saunas can support your brain health. During decades of analyzing the health of the men who did or didn’t use saunas, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia was shown to be markedly lower in those who use a sauna several times a week.
In this case, when the researchers crunched the numbers, they found that using a sauna just once a week – as opposed to never setting foot in a sauna – could lower the chances of Alzheimer’s by about two-thirds.2
Here too, the authors are not clear how being in a sauna protects health, but they believe the same physiological effects that help the cardiovascular system may be supporting the proper function of neurons.
Researcher Jari Laukkanen points out, “It is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well. The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role.”
Gets rid of toxins
Ever since saunas were invented, they’ve been promoted for their ability to help the body rid itself of toxins and other substances that threaten well-being.
And when researchers have analyzed the sweat given off by those sitting in saunas, they’ve discovered an interesting set of proteins produced by the body that defend against bacteria, fungi and other pathogens that can cause sickness.
The German scientists who examined these proteins found that they protect the skin against invading pathogens. They also guard against inflammation and skin damage.3
In addition, studies have shown some solid reasons why saunas are so popular among athletes who endure intense workouts: Indulging in a hot session in the sauna – especially an infrared sauna – “may relax muscles, nerves and blood vessels.”4
That kind of relaxation isn’t just beneficial for athletes – in today’s overstressed environment, the detoxing and calming sensations of periodically heating the body with a sauna are something we all can use. You may add years to your life with your sauna sessions.
If you’re already in good health, a 30-40 minute sauna session three or more times a week will do. Some doctors recommend more frequent use, even daily, for the treatment of certain health conditions.
Infrared saunas yield the most health benefits, as abundant research confirms. They “deep heat” the body in a way other saunas don’t. You can try an infrared sauna at a local health club, spa, or massage therapist. A typical fee is $30-$45 per 30-minute session.
I also recommend purchasing one yourself, if your finances permit. That’s what I did. It makes it easy and convenient to use it two or three times a week. I’ve never been happier or more satisfied with a purchase.
An excellent, cutting-edge manufacturer is Sunlighten, offering clinically backed 3-in-1 infrared saunas with a simple plug-and-heat design for easy home installation. Visit their website or call 1-877-292-0020. Another reputable (albeit more expensive) brand is TheraSauna. Infrared saunas, with their myriad health benefits, are definitely an at-home therapy option worth checking out.
Before I go, here’s another interesting fact: The infrared saunas manufactured by Sunlighten have been clinically determined to provide a highly effective, natural way to lower blood pressure. In a 2005 clinical study by the University of Missouri Kansas City, Sunlighten’s Solocarbon heaters were shown to lower blood pressure through a program of 30 minute infrared sauna session three times per week.
The study concluded that the infrared sauna therapy dilated blood vessels and reduced the volume of their inner lining, thus increasing circulation to promote healthy blood pressure. Other brands of infrared sauna may or may not provide this benefit – I don’t know – the study involved only this one brand.