Readers will not be surprised to learn it was Finnish researchers who recently determined that frequent saunas can help keep blood pressure in check. A news release from the University of Eastern Finland reports that researchers at the school surveyed 1,621 middle-aged men who did not have elevated blood pressure (higher than 140/90) and the study’s start, and divided them into three groups: those taking a sauna once a week, 2–3 times a week, or 4–7 times a week. During an average follow-up of 22 years, the researchers found that the risk of hypertension was 24 percent lower among men with a sauna frequency of 2–3 times a week, and 46 percent lower among men who had a sauna 4–7 times a week.
How does that work? The researchers suggest a few reasons: During sauna bathing, the body temperature may rise up to 2 °C degrees, causing vessels vasodilation; regular sauna bathing improves endothelial function, i.e. the function of the inside layer of blood vessels, which has beneficial effects on systemic blood pressure; and seating, in turn, removes fluid from the body, which is a contributing factor to decreased blood pressure levels. Last but not least, sauna bathing may just help us relax.