Using a sauna twice a week lowers our risk of infection, says study

It seems the Finns are on to something

By Becky Fletcher

A swim and a trip to the sauna are seen as a healthy way to relax and unwind, while doing your body some good. Now a new study says that twice-weekly trips to the sauna could cut the risk of some infections, such as pneumonia.

The Telegraph report that men who regularly used saunas were 27% less likely to develop pneumonia. If they upped their use of the sauna to 4+ times a week, they cut their risk of developing the life-threatening infection by a further 14%. The study from Bristol University and the University of Eastern Finland revealed sauna use also reduced the risk of other chest complaints.

The team studied almost 2,000 men aged 42-61, tracking their health for over 25 years. They recorded sauna use and admissions to hospital for asthma attacks, pneumonia caused by chest infections and complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

The Telegraph report that the male-study can be applied to women too and that saunas may help respiratory illnesses because “the health generated by them eases airway obstruction”.

The study authors said in a report:

“These findings add to the accumulating knowledge on the beneficial effects of sauna baths on both acute and chronic health conditions… Sauna bathing is an enjoyable and relaxing activity… It has a good safety profile and is well-tolerated by most people.”

If you are pregnant, recently suffered a heart attack, have hypertension or low blood pressure, it is advised you avoid using saunas. If you have a medical condition and are concerned about the use of saunas, it is always advised that you speak to your doctor.

The findings were published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

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