Want to stave off Alzheimer’s? Use a sauna frequently.
That could soon be official advice after scientists found that men who use a sauna four to seven times a week reduced their chance of being diagnosed with the disease by 65 per cent compared to those who used it just once a week.
Previous research indicates that using saunas can reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, death due to coronary artery disease and other cardiac events, and overall mortality. But this is the first time that scientists have investigated the link between dementia and essentially sitting in a boiling hot room.
“Saunas are thought to improve circulation and reduce blood pressure, both of which could go some way to reducing your risk of getting dementia,” said Dr Clare Walton, research manger at Alzheimer’s society.
But while Walton welcomed the research, she cautioned that the study alone cannot reveal whether sauna use is a worthwhile way to improve brain health.
“Currently the best evidence to reduce the risk of dementia is to exercise regularly, eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid smoking,” Walton added.
Researchers studied more than 2,000 men in Finland aged between 42 and 60 in a 20 year follow-up.
Professor Jari Laukkanen, the study leader, said sauna bathing may protect the heart heart and memory to some extent.
“However, it is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well. The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role.”
The study was published in the Age and Ageing journal.