This is the third and final post in recognition of Helsinki Sauna Day, which is March 9th. We will again look at some of the benefits of sauna baths, this time in the realm of mental health.
The sauna continues to be an important part of Finnish culture. The sauna cuts across socio-economic classes- the prime minister has a sauna at his/her disposal as do most companies. Saunas are felt to be very egalitarian.
This particular study again utilizes the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease cohort and is a prospective study. Over 2100 men completed the study, ages 42-61 years. None of the men had any history of psychotic disorders at the time of enrollment. Participants completed a questionnaire that assessed smoking history, use of alcohol, physical activity levels, medical and medication history. The weekly frequency and duration of sauna bathing sessions was also collected. The men were followed for nearly 25 years, on average.
Results of the study showed that frequent sauna bathing is strongly associated with a decreased risk of psychosis, in middle age males.
It would be helpful to carry out a similar study in females. It would also be useful to perform the study amongst a more diverse population, such as we have in the United States.
It is felt that the sauna baths promote relaxation and decrease stress, and perhaps in doing so increase mental health. Saunas are also an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, which also promotes wellness. Given these results, and the low risk nature of sauna bathing, perhaps you may want to consider incorporating this as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
“A sauna- the poor man’s pharmacy.”– Finnish Proverb
(Source- Medical Principles and Practice, Sept. 2018)
This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.