Saunas have long been cherished for their relaxation and detoxification benefits. But could these heated retreats also be the secret to a longer, more robust life? Several studies have indicated that saunas not only support our health today but also help us live longer, healthier lives.
Today, we’re diving into the data to uncover exactly how saunas can help us live longer. Before we unpack the evidence-backed advantages of regular sauna use, it's pivotal to first understand what longevity means, the factors that affect longevity, and ultimately, how regular sauna use supports a longer life.
What is Longevity?
Longevity isn't just about counting birthdays; it's about the quality and vitality of those lived years. Fundamentally, the duration of human life, or longevity, hinges on three pivotal factors: genetics, the environment, and most crucially, lifestyle.
While genetics might provide a blueprint and the environment sets the stage, your daily lifestyle choices–from what you eat to how often you exercise–can play a starring role in determining how well and how long you live.
Dr. Peter Attia, a leading expert on longevity, often highlights the balance between healthspan (our years of good health) and lifespan (our total years). He advocates for methods that enhance both the quality and duration of life.
Beyond well-known factors like exercise, mental agility, and nutrition, there are other approaches to boosting longevity. One such time-tested method is the sauna.
In a 2023 podcast episode on The Tim Ferriss Show, Dr. Attia acknowledged the significant longevity perks of consistent sauna use, such as a remarkable 40% reduced risk of mortality, regardless of age or lifestyle.
Let’s review three other science-backed benefits of sauna use for longevity.
3 Ways Regular Sauna Use Can Boost Longevity
1. Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular-Related Death
Cardiovascular disease stands as the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, responsible for approximately 18 million deaths each year.
Findings from the same KIHD study revealed that men who frequented the sauna 2-3 times per week had a 27% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular-related causes–including sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, and CVD–than those who did not sauna. For those who used the sauna 4-7 times a week, this protective effect roughly doubled to a 50% reduction in cardiovascular-related deaths and a 62% reduced risk of stroke.
These benefits are attributed to several key mechanisms, such as:
Reduction in Hypertension: Spending time in the sauna can make blood vessels more flexible, potentially helping to control or prevent high blood pressure without medication. In fact, those who used saunas 4-7 times a week were about 47% less likely to develop high blood pressure.
Combating Inflammation: Persistent low-level inflammation can lead to various diseases, including heart issues. A blood component called C-reactive protein (CRP) reveals inflammation levels in the body. Notably, consistent sauna use has been linked to notably lower CRP levels.
Addressing Endothelial Dysfunction: The inner lining of our blood vessels, known as the endothelium, helps control whether these vessels widen or narrow. Sauna therapy has been observed to promote a balanced release of agents that either expand or tighten these vessels, which is particularly helpful for people with heart problems like congestive heart failure.
2. Reduce the Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s & Dementia
One of the most daunting threats to our longevity and quality of life as we age is Alzheimer's disease. This common form of dementia is not only incurable but can lead to very poor quality of life and, eventually, death due to complications. Luckily, frequent sauna sessions could be a potent weapon against this degenerative disease.
The KIHD study found that individuals who indulged in sauna sessions 4-7 times per week reduced their risk of developing dementia by a whopping 66% and had a 65% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who took a sauna bath just once a week.
Such findings underscore the significance of regular sauna use, especially in light of the increasing concerns around cognitive diseases as we grow older.
3. Mimic Moderate Physical Activity
Sauna sessions aren't just a luxury; they can be a lifeline for those who find traditional exercise challenging or inaccessible. The body's reaction to sauna use closely mirrors the effects of moderate physical exercise, making sauna use an excellent alternative for individuals with chronic conditions or physical restrictions.
By simulating cardiovascular and metabolic responses, saunas provide an avenue to experience the benefits of exercise without the physical strain.
Sauna Precautions and Special Populations
Pregnant women, especially those with conditions like toxemia, should exercise caution due to potential risks, even though many in sauna-centric cultures like Finland use them safely during pregnancy.
Additionally, individuals with acute illnesses or on medication should consult a physician before sauna use. It's essential to always seek medical advice before starting sauna sessions, especially for those with health concerns.
The evidence is compelling: regular sauna use is more than just relaxation—it's a proactive step towards longevity. By mitigating cardiovascular risks, shielding against neurological disorders, and simulating the benefits of exercise, saunas genuinely offer a multi-faceted approach to a longer, healthier life.
At Sweat Tent, our mission is to make regular sauna use the norm, so we can all live happier, healthier, longer lives. As the world’s most powerful, portable, affordable home sauna tent, you can easily integrate sauna sessions into your routine, wherever you are, without straining your wallet or hunting for power outlets. Its wellness made simple and accessible.
Medical disclaimer: This post is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before adding sauna bathing to your health and wellness routine.