A new study suggests your physique might not be the only thing that benefits from a good sweat session; spending time in the sauna a few times a week could improve your mental fitness.  

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland have found that frequent sauna use may be linked to a reduction in the risk of dementia in men.

They made this discovery after looking at a pool of 2,315 allegedly healthy men between the ages of 42 and 60 who were participating in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD). The men were divided into three different groups based on their ‘sauna-bathing’ habits: one group for those who used a sauna once a week, one for those who used a sauna two-to-three times a week, and one for those who used a sauna four-to-seven times a week.

What the researchers found (after adjusting for factors that could affect the results like age, body mass index, blood pressure or alcohol and cigarette consumption) in a 20-year follow-up was that the more frequently a subject took a sauna, the lower his risk of dementia was.

Those who used a sauna four-to-seven times a week were 66 percent less likely to be diagnosed with any form of dementia, while 65 percent were less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease than those who used a sauna once a week.

The link between sauna use and dementia risk has never been studied before, although previous results from the KIHD study showed that frequent sauna use can reduce the risk of death from heart attacks, coronary artery disease and overall mortality.    

The study’s lead author, professor Jari Laukkanen, said sauna use could have a protective impact on both the heart and memory in similar ways, although it’s not yet known how.

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

The study’s results have been published online in the journal Age and Ageing.

h/t Yahoo News