Finnish researchers say regularly spending time in a sauna can help lower the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Matthew Stock reports.
If there's one thing that Finland is famous for... it's the sauna. The dry heat soothes aching muscles and helps the body sweat out toxins. Previous research suggested saunas can help prevent heart problems. But a new study suggests it's also good for the mind - lowering the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Researchers followed more than 2,000 middle-aged Finnish men for at least 20 years. Those who went to the sauna four to seven times a week were 65 percent less likely to be diagnosed than those going just once a week. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JARI LAUKKANEN, SENIOR RESEARCHER FROM UNIVERSITY OF EASTERN FINLAND, SAYING: "We know that during the sauna hearth rate increases, we start sweating and this is a bit like physical exercise... after sauna you may have a lower blood pressure level. We know that blood pressure is an important risk factor for these diseases, memory diseases and cardiovascular diseases, so this is may be one possible exploration for our findings." (SOUNDBITE) (English) HANNU PITKÄINEN, SENIOR MEMBER OF THE SAUNA SOCIETY, SAYING: "I feel very relaxed after sauna and of course that's the place where I can wash myself and have a nice conversation with my friends." The findings were published in the journal Age and Ageing. The study only focused on men. Finding out if saunas have the same health benefits for women is the next study the researchers will sweat over.