Chances are you’re hitting the sauna after an intense workout to help lose weight, but the time you spend sweating it out could also promote better heart health. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has found that not only are saunas safe for people with poor heart health, but they may also reduce our risk for fatal cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality.

"Further studies are warranted to establish the potential mechanism that links sauna bathing and cardiovascular health," authors of the study said in a statement.

Lead researcher from the University of Eastern Finland Dr. Jari A. Laukkanen and his colleagues recruited 2,314 men between the ages of 42 and 60 from eastern Finland. Researchers set out to determine any potential link between number of sauna bathing sessions per week and each man’s risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD), fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD), and all-cause mortality. After 21 years of follow-up, the research team identified 190 cases of SCD, 281 CHD, 407 cases of CVD, and 929 deaths from all causes.

The risk for SCD among men who reported two to three sauna bathing sessions per week was 63 percent lower compared to men who reported one sauna bathing session per week. Men who reported two to three sauna bathing sessions per week were also 23 percent less likely to develop CHD, 27 percent less likely to develop CVD, and 24 percent less likely to die from all causes compared to men who reported one sauna bathing session.

Compared to men who reported one sauna bathing session, men who reported four to seven sauna bathing sessions per week had a 63 percent lower risk for SCD, 48 percent lower risk for CHD, 50 percent lower risk for CVD, and 40 percent lower risk for all-cause mortality. Risk for fatal cardiovascular events dropped by over 50 percent in men who reported spending more than 19 minutes in a sauna.

"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," Dr. Rita F. Redberg, from the University of California, San Francisco, and editor-in-chief of JAMA Internal Medicine, said in a related Editor's Note.

According to the Harvard Medical School, dry heat from a sauna can reach as high as 185 degrees Fahrenheit, causing skin temperature to soar to around 104 degrees Fahrenheit. After spending a couple of minutes in a sauna, the average person loses around a pint of sweat. While the body is reacting to such high heat, pulse rate increases by 30 percent or more, and the heart nearly doubles the amount of blood it is pumping each minute.

Source: Laukkanen J, Zaccardi F, Khan H, Laukkanen T. Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015.