When you think of saunas you may picture lazy Sundays at the health club.
But did you know saunas are not only a relaxing getaway but also one of the most effective ways to live healthier – for longer?
Researchers in Finland studied the effect of saunas on more than 2,300 men over a 20 year period and found that men who used saunas four to seven times per week lived longer than men who only used saunas once a week. 
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that frequent sauna users had:
* A 63 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death
* A 50 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease
* A 40 percent overall lower death rate
These are remarkable statistics and it’s only scientifically correct to question how sitting in a sauna like you just golfed 18 can provide powerful life extending benefits.
However, the secret behind the sauna is how its effects mirror another life extending practice, exercise.
Specifically, exercise’s ability to raise your body’s core temperature.
How Sauna Use Mimics Exercise
You don’t want your body’s temperature to be higher than normal for an extended period of time like when you have a fever since this can destroy your immune system and cause significant damage to the body.
But raising your core temp for short periods of time can actually have very beneficial results.
This phenomenon is known as hormesis, which is when a positive effect results from exposure to low doses of an agent that is otherwise toxic or lethal when given at higher doses.
In this case, raising body temperature.
You see, when you exercise your body’s core temperature is increased, which induces strain on the body, decreases endurance, and accelerates exhaustion.
During this time the body goes through a natural process called hyperthermic conditioning, or heat adaptation.
Basically, the body is in an abnormal state and will make any changes necessary to survive at this new temperature.
This process optimizes your body for next time you exercise (and raise your body temperature) so the body is put through less metabolic stress.
The more exercise you perform means the better heat adapted you are.
During heat adaptation the body goes through physiological adaptations that when the body returns to normal temperature have many lasting benefits which include:
• Improved cardiovascular mechanisms and lower heart rate.
• Lower core body temperature during workload
• Higher sweat rate and sweat sensitivity as a function of increased thermoregulatory control.
• Increased blood flow to skeletal muscle (known as muscle perfusion) and other tissues.
• Reduced rate of glycogen depletion due to improved muscle perfusion.
• Increased red blood cell count
• Increased efficiency of oxygen transport to muscles.
(source: Dr. Rhonda Patrick)
This is why exercise is one of the most proven ways to live healthier.
Become Healthier By Relaxing
Now, research shows sauna use causes the body to go through this same heat adaptation with the body going through the same beneficial physiological adaptions.
Essentially, 30 minutes of relaxing sauna time may have the same cardiovascular and metabolic effects of intense aerobic exercise.
In addition to improving the body’s cardiovascular system, heat stress via sauna use has been shown to improve longevity, increase growth hormone, reduce protein degradation, increase insulin sensitivity, and increase brain-derived neurotrophic factors, crucial for brain health.
Sauna use is one of the easiest and most effective ways improve your health and longevity, plus it’s incredibly relaxing and therapeutic.
We’re interested to know how many of our readers already use a sauna and if any of you will now be using them more often.
As always you can leave a comment below.
1. Laukkanen, T., Khan, H., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2015). Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Internal Medicine,175(4), 542. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187