For thousands of years, Finns have loved saunas. There are an estimated 2 million saunas in Finland for a population of 5.3 million people.
Turns out the Finns are on to something.
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland found that 30 minutes in a dry sauna can lower blood pressure and keep it down for at least 30 minutes after leaving the sauna. A previous study from the same researchers also found that people who regularly visit saunas show lower rates of dementia, hypertension and cardiac death than infrequent visitors.
The cardiovascular benefits “may be similar” to regular exercise, but the researchers say that they are “not yet sure” whether or not sauna is as healthy as a workout.
While science debates the issue, we suggest touring some of our country’s best spas and saunas, as voted by Travel + Leisure readers.
The Sunrise Springs Spa Resort in Santa Fe features a steam room infused with eucalyptus to open up the respiratory system.
Wellness-seekers in Vermont can trek to the New Life Hiking Spa in Killington. After taking part in a hiking program, guests can relax in the sauna to double their cardiovascular benefits.
And last year’s top winner among our readers was the Westglow Resort & Spa in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. After a visit to the sauna, visitors can take part in various classes and workshops with themes such as “creating balance in your life.”