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Live longer and improve your heart without moving a muscle

By Lowe: A study in Finland shows that an easy activity, that you can do sitting down, increases your life expectancy and drops your risk of a heart attack.

Research at the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, shows that spending time in a sauna doesn’t just make you sweaty. It can also shrink your chances of heart problems and boost your life expectancy.

The Finnish researchers analyzed the health of more than 2,300 men ages 42 to 60 for a period of more than 20 years.

Among these men, those who sat in a sauna two or three times a week had a 22 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) than men who only did one sauna session a week. Men who did four to seven sauna sessions weekly reduced their risk of SCD by 63 percent during the two decades of the study.

The overall risk of death from any kind of heart problem was found to be 27 percent lower for men who did sauna sessions two or three times a week. Spending four to seven weekly sessions in a sauna dropped this risk by 50 percent.

And during the 20 years of the study, bathing in a sauna two or three times a week dropped the risk of death from any cause by 24 percent. Sweating it out in a sauna four to seven times a week reduced the chances of death by 40 percent.

In a note accompanying the study, Rita F. Redberg, the editor-in-chief of JAMA Internal Medicine, notes: “Although we do not know why the men who took saunas more frequently had greater longevity (whether it is the time spent in the hot room, the relaxation time, the leisure of a life that allows for more relaxation time or the camaraderie of the sauna), clearly time spent in the sauna is time well spent.”