Healthy food and exercise are effective means to keep cholesterol levels under control, but recent research also indicates that regular sauna bathing can help you keep your cholesterol low.
Our bodies need cholesterol to function, but too much of it increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Excercise and a healthy lifestyle are factors that contribute to a low level of cholesterol, but sometimes age, injuries and other problems can make exercising difficult. A Polish team of researchers at the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Cracow have found that regular sauna bathing also affects the cholesterol levels in a positive way, even comparable to the effects seen from light exercise.
“Regular heat exposure stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and provides physiological effects that actually resemble those we get from physical exercise" Dorota Gryka and co-workers write in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health.
In their study, 16 physically active men in ages between 20 and 23 years were monitored. They were instructed not to change their eating habits, not to take any dietary supplements and not to drink any alcohol during the course of the study. For ten days, the participants completed a total of ten sauna sessions, each consisting of two 15-minute sauna baths with a 2-minute break in between.
"The results showed that regular sauna bathing leads to a statistically significant reduction in cholesterol" the researchers state in their report.
Another interesting observation that the research team made was when the participants stopped taking regular sauna baths, their cholesterol levels would gradually return to the initial levels.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a lipid, a fatty substance. Cholesterol is essential for the building of body cells, but in too large doses it can result in significant health risks. It can form lipid lumps in the blood vessel walls and contribute to our most common cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, angina and stroke..
International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 2014:7