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Can Infrared Sauna Promote Cardiovascular Health?

A 2009 Canadian study of infrared sauna found that people suffering from congestive heart failure who were treated with infrared sauna consistently gained relief from it and also enjoyed reduced systolic hypertension. This shows how safe infrared sauna is. But it also suggests that anyone can realize cardiovascular benefits from it.

An April 2015 article in JAMA Internal Medicine reported on a study of 2315 middle-aged Finnish men who used traditional saunas. The subjects were sorted into three categories: those who used the sauna once a week, those who used it 2-3 times a week, and those who used it 4-7 times a week. The researchers followed the subjects an average of 18 years each. They actually found a relationship between frequency of sauna use and longevity, even after controlling for age, BMI, systolic blood pressure, serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, smoking, alcohol consumption, previous myocardial infarction, type 2 diabetes, cardiorespiratory fitness, resting heart rate, physical activity, and socioeconomic status. Specifically, they determined that using a sauna was associated with lower risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and all causes. Furthermore, they found the risks for these conditions declined as the sauna use increased, even in the catchall category of “all causes.” The Finns were using traditional sauna rather than infrared sauna, but the study confirms the cardiovascular benefits of heat on the human body.

Note that some people cannot tolerate the traditional sauna. In order to get your body to produce beneficial perspiration (which carries away toxins), the traditional sauna heats the air around you to about 200 degrees. Some people find it nearly impossible to breathe 200-degree air, and at the very least, most people find it uncomfortable. Infrared sauna, by contrast, uses infrared panels to heat your body directly, rather than heating the air around you. It raises the temperature in your body quickly, even while the room remains in the temperature range of human habitation (100 to 150 degrees), reducing both risk and discomfort. So if you need a sauna but can’t tolerate a traditional one, infrared sauna may be your best alternative.

How could regular infrared sauna use cause people to live longer? The authors of the Finnish study suggest that sauna promotes cardiovascular health by improving the function of blood vessels. Studies have found increased capacity for exercise, reduced arrhythmias, and improved function in the autonomic nervous system. In other words, heat makes stronger blood vessels, which means stronger cardiovascular function and less likelihood of dying, certainly from heart attack and apparently from any cause.

To learn more about infrared sauna and its benefits, check out this video. On the same page with the video, you can find answers to frequently asked questions. Book an infrared sauna session with Peak Recovery & Health Center today. It may start you on the path to a longer life!

Photo: “Gold_HEART” by Julio Pollux. Creative Commons license.