Regular sauna bathing ( 4-7 sessions a week ) reduces the risk of stroke by 61 percent, finds a study based on the population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) that involved 1,628 men and women aged 53 to 74 years living in the eastern part of Finland.
Finland is the birthplace of the traditional sauna which involves sitting in a room filled with dry heat at temperatures that top 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a 15-year follow-up study — published in the journal Neurology — people taking a sauna 4-7 times a week were 61 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those taking a sauna once a week.
The study participants were divided into three groups based on their frequency of taking traditional Finnish sauna baths (relative humidity 10-20 percent) : those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna 2-3 times a week, and those taking a sauna 4-7 times a week.
The more frequently saunas were taken, the lower was the risk of stroke. Compared to people taking one sauna session per week, the risk was decreased by 14 percent among those with 2-3 sessions and 61 percent among those with 4-7 sessions.
It’s not clear whether the results would extend to other types of heat therapy — from steam rooms to hot tubs — that are more common in other countries, said lead researcher Setor Kunutsor.
The association persisted even when taking into account conventional stroke risk factors, such as age, sex, diabetes, body mass index, blood lipids, alcohol consumption, physical activity and socio-economic status. The strength of association was similar in men and women.
Mechanisms driving the association of sauna bathing with reduced stroke may include a reduction in blood pressure, stimulation of immune system, a positive impact on the autonomic nervous system, and an improved cardiovascular function,according to the researchers.
Previous results from the KIHD study at the University of Eastern Finland have shown that frequent sauna bathing also significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
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Excess use of social media may lead to depression and loneliness
Excessive use of social media like Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram could lead to depression and loneliness as this habit is associated with poor well-being,researchers have warned.
A new study, being published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that limiting screen time on these apps could boost one’s wellness.
The study has tried to look into the causal side of things, and see whether people may actually feel better when they cut down on social media.
“Our findings strongly suggest that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being,” the authors concluded.
“When you are not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you are actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life,” said Melissa Hunt, associate director of clinical training at the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
For the study, researchers from the varsity, included 143 undergraduate participants. The team designed their experiment to include the three platforms most popular with the participants.
They monitored the students for a week to get a baseline reading of their social media use, and gave them questionnaires that assessed their well-being according to seven different factors: social support, fear of missing out (aka FOMO), loneliness, autonomy and self-acceptance (a measure of psychological well-being), anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.
They collected objective usage data automatically tracked by iPhones for active apps, not those running in the background, and asked respondents to complete a survey to determine mood and well-being.
“Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study,” Hunt told Science Daily.
The researchers chose to limit social media, rather than have subjects stop using it altogether, because it was a more realistic option, she noted.