Taking care of your heart is vital to your longevity and overall health. And tending to your ticker doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In fact, there’s plenty of easy — and even enjoyable — ways to boost your cardiovascular health.
For instance, walking is excellent for your heart. And it doesn’t even need to be a brisk walk. In a large study that compared moderate-intensity walking to vigorous-intensity running, walkers actually enjoyed the same improved benefits as runners:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Lessened LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
- Lowered diabetes risk
What could be easier than that? Maybe this: A trip to the blood bank.
Last week I told you how a single blood donation naturally reduces blood viscosity, which significantly cuts your risk of heart attack. (A quick reminder: Blood donations are very low right now, so if you can carve out a free hour, this is a perfect time to do your heart even more good by donating blood.)
And yet, as ridiculously easy as walking or giving blood can be, there’s still an easier way to improve your heart health.
All you have to do is sit, relax, and doing nothing for 30 minutes… in a sauna.
“Sauna bathing” originated in Finland, so it’s no surprise that notoriously health-conscious Finlanders also study the practice. Last year, researchers at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) reported that men who used saunas often had lower rates of heart disease and Alzheimer’s compared to men who used saunas infrequently.
But that study only established a link — not proof of causation.
To investigate further, the same team mounted a follow-up study to measure the effects of sauna on the heart. They recruited 102 middle-aged volunteers who had heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity, but no cases of heart disease.
Each participant underwent one 30-minute sauna session. Measurements taken before and after each session revealed three impressive results, on average:
- Arteries became more elastic
This helps to better maintain constant pressure in the arteries to despite the pulsating nature of blood flow from the heart.
- Blood pressure dropped by seven points
This can your lower risk for cardiovascular events, as long as it doesn’t drop too low.
- Heart rate rose from 65 to 81 beats per minute
Increased heart rate has many benefits such as increasing oxygen flow to the muscles, improving the immune system, weight loss, stronger stamina, etc.
Unfortunately, the study didn’t reveal exactly what produced these results. The 160 degree heat in the sauna probably had something to do with it. When heat is applied locally, blood vessels relax and blood flow improves. But the meditative effect of sitting quietly for a half hour might have also contributed to the benefits.
Whatever the exact causes might be, the net benefits were similar to a session of moderate exercise. Not bad for 30-minutes of sitting.
So if you have access to a sauna, then by all means, go ahead and indulge in a “shvitz” — the old school term for a sauna session. Then take an easy walk and your heart will be spinning like a top.
P.S. — For more heart-healing benefits without drugs or dangerous surgeries, refer to the new online protocol from Dr. Marc Micozzi’s, a prominent OmniVista Health Learning guru. For more information on his Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol, or to enroll today, simply click here.
Sauna Sessions May Be as Good as Exercise for the Heart
January 16, 2018
Walk, Don’t Run, Your Way to a Healthy Heart
American Heart Association
March 20, 2014