Posted on: March 31, 2023
As we age, our cognitive abilities often decline, and one of the most feared cognitive diseases is Alzheimer’s or dementia. These diseases can have a severe impact on the quality of life, and research shows that the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is increasing worldwide. While there is no cure for these diseases, there are some lifestyle changes that may help reduce the risk of developing them, and recent studies suggest that using a sauna may be one such change.
Sauna bathing is a traditional Finnish practice that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation, improve health, and provide a social setting for people to gather and connect. In recent years, research has focused on the potential health benefits of sauna bathing, and one area of interest is its impact on cognitive health.
A study published in the journal Age and Ageing looked at the relationship between sauna use and the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The study followed over 2,000 middle-aged men in Finland for more than 20 years, during which time they underwent regular health check-ups and reported their sauna use.
The researchers found that the men who used the sauna two to three times a week had a 22% lower risk of developing dementia and a 20% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who used the sauna only once a week. The risk reduction was even more significant for those who used the sauna four to seven times a week, with a 66% lower risk of developing dementia and a 65% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The study’s authors suggest that the heat exposure and increased heart rate that occur during sauna use may contribute to the reduced risk of cognitive decline. Sauna use has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, improve vascular function, and increase the production of proteins that help protect the brain from damage.
Other studies have also suggested that sauna use may have a protective effect on cognitive health. A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that men who used the sauna two to three times a week had a 20% lower risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease, and a 40% lower risk of death from respiratory disease. The authors of that study suggest that the heat exposure and increased heart rate that occur during sauna use may improve cardiovascular and respiratory health, which in turn may contribute to the reduced risk of cognitive decline.
While the studies suggest that regular sauna use may reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to note that these studies are observational and cannot prove causality. Additionally, the studies focused on middle-aged men from Finland, so it is unclear if the results would apply to other populations.
Despite these limitations, the studies provide intriguing evidence of the potential health benefits of sauna use, including its potential impact on cognitive health. Further research is needed to determine the exact mechanisms by which sauna use may protect against cognitive decline and to explore its potential benefits in other populations.
In conclusion, sauna use has been found to have numerous health benefits, and recent studies suggest that it may reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. While more research is needed to confirm these findings and explore the potential benefits in other populations, sauna use is a safe and enjoyable practice that may improve overall health and well-being. So, why not consider incorporating sauna use into your lifestyle?