Saturday, May 05, 2018


It turns out that Finns and other sauna lovers have been right in touting the health benefits of frequent sauna bathing. A long-term study that followed more than 1600 middle-aged Finnish men and women for 15 years found that people who took saunas 4 to 7 times a week had roughly one-third the risk of stroke compared to peers who took just one sauna a week.

That risk reduction was similar for men and women, for people of different ages and social-economic status, and for people with other medical conditions.

Modern sauna

Most people associate saunas with Finland, where it dates back at least to the year 1112 and is still extremely popular. However, we know that the ancient Romans also valued similar heat treatment, as shown in the caldaria  or hot rooms in the public and private baths found throughout the Roman Empire. Many traditional societies also valued heat treatments, often combined with aromatic herbs, as part of healing ceremonies. Examples can be found in the temazcals found throughout Mesoamerica in archaeological sites, codices, and in current use, as well as in the sweat lodges traditionally used by Native Americans.

Prehispanic temazcal

Reduced stroke risk is not the only benefit from sauna bathing. You can read about a wide range of research-supported physical and mental benefits here and here too. This seems to be one area where ancient and traditional knowledge is holding up under current scientific scrutiny.

I don't know about you, but after my next workout, I'm heading for the sauna.


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