The secret to extending your lifespan may be as simple as sweating it out in a sauna.
It may sound a little too good to be true, but Finnish researchers have actually found in a new study that higher frequency and longer duration of sauna use was correlated with less risk for heart problems and a lower chance of mortality.
The team followed a group of 2,315 men aged 42 to 60 from eastern Finland. They then checked in on the men after 21 years to learn how many had died and from what causes.
It turned out the more saunas the men took, the better their chances were for living longer.
More specifically, the men who had more than four sauna sessions per week had the lowest risk of death — 40% lower than those who went twice a week — but those who had two to three sessions still got some of the cardiovascular benefits.
The researchers found that benefits of sauna use mimic those of exercise. Both practices increase heart rate and sweat levels, leading to "better relaxation and well-being," said study author Jari Laukkanen.
Despite the study's obvious limitations (it only included men), Laukkanen, a cardiologist at the University of Eastern Finland, believes that his findings can apply to women, too. Still, though, further research needs to be performed for confirmation.
It is also important to note that not all saunas are created equal. The study only included Finnish saunas, which typically have dry air and a temperature between 80°C to 100°C (or a minimum of 176°F).
So if you don't feel like sweating it out on the treadmill, elliptical, or bike, go to the gym for another sweat-inducing amenity: the sauna. Just make sure you find one with Finnish-like characteristics. And imagine if you hopped in the sauna after a workout — it'd be like a double workout with only half the work.