Existing evidence suggests that frequent Finnish sauna bathing may have a wide array of health benefits, a comprehensive literature review has determined.
The research, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings , found that sauna bathing may be linked to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease (CVD), neurocognitive diseases, pulmonary diseases and mortality. Furthermore, saunas appeared to alleviate conditions such as arthritis, headache, flu and certain skin conditions.
The study acknowledged that hot sauna exposure could potentially be harmful in patients with symptomatic and unstable disease conditions such as unstable coronary artery disease. It also suggested people with orthostatic hypotension or severe valvular disease should exercise caution during saunas, while it may also be contraindicated in those with acute infectious or inflammatory conditions, fever and certain skin conditions.
The authors said while previous anecdotal evidence has suggested people with cardiovascular conditions should be discouraged from having sauna baths, the overall findings from studies suggest that saunas are safe for patients with stable CVD.
They concluded: "S auna bathing may be a remedy to the call for additional lifestyle interventions needed to enhance health and wellness, particularly in populations that have difficulty exercising, and also as an adjunct to exercise."