Saunas Have This Surprising Benefit For Your Brain
Science is still figuring out how our our behavior and habits affect our mind and body. Some are obvious, and others aren’t. And every once in awhile, we find a surprise.
You wouldn’t think that something like regular sauna visits would be worth looking into. But scientists from the country of Finland did just that, and found that it has a wonderful benefit for your brain.
Going to the Sauna Good for the Brain
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland followed over 2,000 Finnish men over the course of about 20 years.
And what did they find?
That regularly going to the sauna could keep your brain healthy.
In fact, it reduced the risk of cognitive dementia by 66% with Alzheimer’s – a common form of dementia – being reduced by almost the same amount. The research is published in the journal Age and Ageing.
But for the Finns, regular visits to a sauna is a big part of their culture. They love getting steamed up with other half naked bodies in small, potentially awkward, spaces. The BBC reports that 99% of Finns sauna at least once a week.
So you might ask how often would you have to sauna to see benefits?
The study separated the men into three different groups. Those who went once a week, those who went 2-3 times a week, and a third group who went 4-7 times a week. The study found that the more people frequented the steam rooms, the lower the risk for dementia.
Those that went 4-7 times a week saw the greatest reduced risk at 66% . By comparison, those who went 2-3 times a week saw a reduction of about 20%
Why Is Visiting the Sauna Good For the Brain?
While the Finnish study didn’t prove causation, the researchers believe two different factors might contribute to the reduced risk of dementia.
Researcher Jari Luakkanen who led the study said:
…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.
Indeed, other research has found that bathing in steam has a positive effect on our hearth health. This could be through lower inflammation or blood pressure. The other factor, relaxation, can affect levels of stress. The researchers point out that these seem to be the likely mechanisms behind the suana’s effect on our brain health.
Boosting Brain Health
Fins are probably a bit more comfortable with letting it all hang out than most of us in other parts of the world.
But don’t worry. If a hot sauna isn’t your thing, you could always go for the hot tub instead. And there’s other ways to get similar cognitive protection.
Increasing your cardiovascular health through exercise is arguably your best bet. But reducing your stress level, and taking time out for yourself are all ways to boost your physical and mental health.
And when your brain is happy, you’re happy.