Eight weeks of regular sauna bathing and exercise were found to be superior to regular exercise alone in improving three major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in the general population. Specifically, adding regular sauna bathing to regular exercise further improved cardiopulmonary function and significantly reduced systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol levels than regular exercise.
A recent study by the University of Jyväskylä in Finland showed that combining sauna and exercise can improve cardiovascular health and lower the risk of CVD.
This study was conducted using a randomized controlled trial (RCT), considered the “gold standard” of scientific experimental evidence. Moreover, this is the first time his RCT has been conducted in a sauna bathing study and lays an important foundation for future research.
The results of this study support the regular use of sauna bathing with regular exercise and show promise as a therapeutic adjunct, especially for people with low mobility.”
Earric Lee, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Sports and Health Sciences
The exercise protocol used in this study followed well-established international and national guidelines: 50 minutes of exercise three times per week. It consisted of followed by 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. Participants in the exercise and sauna group had a typical Finnish sauna bathing for 15 minutes after the exercise session.
CVD is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Every year, the Finnish public health system costs a huge amount of money. “Approaches that may reduce the burden and work in concert with other preventive strategies, such as exercise, deserve further consideration,” Lee points out.
The current research results are part of a doctoral dissertation and final experiment.
Lee, E., and others. (2022) Effect of regular sauna bathing combined with exercise on cardiovascular function: a multi-arm randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Synthetic and Comparative Physiology. doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00076.2022.