Saunas are known for their relaxing qualities, but a recent study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland found that frequent trips to the sauna may reduce dementia risk as well, though researchers aren't sure exactly why.

The team studied more than 2,000 middle-aged men living in the eastern part of Finland. Participants were split into three groups and studied depending on their sauna-bathing habits. One group used a sauna once a week, the second group visited 2 to 3 times a week, and the third visited 4 to 7 times a week, according to Medical Xpress.

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After examining the results, researchers found that the more frequently saunas were taken, the lower the risk of dementia. Among those taking a sauna 4 to 7 times a week, the risk of any form of dementia was 66 percent lower. Additionally, chances of getting Alzheimer's disease was 65 percent lower than for those who didn’t use a sauna at all.

According to Professor Jari Laukkanen, the study leader, sauna bathing may also protect both the heart and memory, but the exact mechanisms behind this protection are unknown.

"However, it is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well,” Laukkanen explained, according to Medical XPress. “The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role."

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Alzheimer’s Disease is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, and one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The association between sauna bathing and chances of getting dementia has not been previously investigated, Medical XPress reported.

Source: Laukkanen J, et al. Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease in middle-aged Finnish men. Age and Aging. 2016.

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