Given the choice of jogging on a treadmill, swimming laps, or sitting in a sauna, which do you think offers the better cardio workout? As it turns out, there’s no wrong answer. You really can “sit and be fit!”
Leave it to the Finns to find evidence that relaxing in a sauna, which they do a lot, is just as good for your blood vessels as moderate exercise. Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland studied 102 middle-aged adults who had risk factors for heart disease. Each subject had a single sauna session with dry heat over 160 degrees. That’s the traditional Finnish style. On average, the subjects’ blood pressure dropped by seven points and their arteries became more “elastic.”
There may be another health benefit to easing your tense muscles in the sauna. One researcher involved in the Finnish study said that, when in the sauna, “…people are getting away from their phones and allowing themselves to relax and get into a more meditative state.” It might be a good idea to add a little sauna time to your fitness plan.