It hurts my soul that one of the most common fitness searchers made by Googlers is ‘how to lose weight fast without exercise’. Firstly, weight-loss can be an extremely problematic indicator of health and fitness, and while the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight can’t be denied (obesity doesn’t come with many upsides), weight loss is also a symptom of most life-threatening illnesses. Secondly, what is wrong with exercise?! Behind peanut butter and sleep, exercise is one of the greatest aspects of the human experience, and as a writer at Men’s Health, I’m personally a HUGE fan.
However, numbers don’t lie, and the people have spoken. They want a shortcut. Well, today, you may have got one.
A Finnish report published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that a sauna mimics the physiological effects of moderate exercise, with reported benefits including better joint health, decreased blood pressure, decreased mortality, and a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.
“The beneficial effects of sauna bathing on these outcomes have been linked to its effect on circulatory, cardiovascular, and immune functions,” say the researchers after completing a metadata analysis on years worth of results relating to the benefits of saunas.
“It has been postulated that regular sauna bathing may improve cardiovascular function via improved endothelium-dependent dilatation, reduced arterial stiffness, modulation of the autonomic nervous system, beneficial changes in circulating lipid profiles, and lowering of systemic blood pressure.”
So how many sauna-session reap the same benefits as exercise. Well just like the gym, hitting the sauna four to seven times per week, for 5-20 minutes on average, can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by 60 per cent.
Scientists analyzed years of data on sauna habits and health outcomes, with subjects typically spending five to 20 minutes in spaces heated to between 175 degrees Fahrenheit and 210 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a saving grace for fitness die-hards like us here at MH, even the researchers suggest thinking twice before swearing off exercise completely. “The combination of good fitness and regular sauna use is related to a lowered risk of diseases,” says lead researcher Dr. Jari Laukkanen when talking to the New York Post.
Plus, who wants to sit in a puddle of their own sweat every day of the week? Surely working out beats that. Surely...?