By Monica Torres 

We already know that getting healthy means eating more greens, sleeping longer, and working out more, but a new study found that there’s one unexpected way we can boost our health — going to a sauna.

In a study published in Neurology, frequent sauna bathers — those who took one four to seven times a week — lowered their overall stroke risk dramatically by 60%.

Study: Sauna heat is good for your heart

You may not have a home sauna, but many people in Finland do. Many of them grow up going to small rooms filled with dry heat that can go up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit so that they can cleanse themselves and relax. As they perspire out their body weight in those saunas, good cardiovascular health is being promoted, researchers found.

For this study, researchers tracked over 1,000 adults in Finland on their sauna usage and their health outcomes for about 15 years. The more often saunas were taken, the lower was the risk of stroke, even accounting for outside factors like age, income, smoking and exercise habits, and previous medical histories of diabetes and high blood pressure. In fact, the frequent sauna bathers lowered their risk by 60% compared to people who only had one weekly sauna session.

Why are saunas so good for you? It’s the heat. The researchers suggest that the high heat in sauna bathing can increase blood flow, improve blood circulation, and stimulate your immune system, thereby decreasing hypertension, a condition associated with high stroke risk.

“Overall, the results of this study demonstrate that frequent sauna bathing is associated with a reduced risk of future stroke in middle-aged to elderly Caucasian men and women,” the study concluded. “The present study adds to emerging evidence that passive heat therapy such as sauna bathing could improve cardiovascular health and decrease the risk of vascular events.”

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