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Study: Repeated Sauna Use Each Week Can Help Men Live Longer

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Saunas don't just make you feel good; they may actually help you live longer.

A new study reveals that men who use saunas several times a week live longer than men who only use a sauna once a week, CBS2's Elise Finch reported Monday.

The six sauna rooms that make up "Sauna Valley" are a huge attraction for people at the Spa Castle in Queens.

"I get in there, I feel hot and sweaty and I come out. I feel much better," Maspeth resident Dave Webb said. "I really like it and I recommend it to all people."

"It's just a whole body relaxation as well as detoxification,' added Stephanie Chon of Spa Castle.

The benefits may also include longer life for men. Researchers in Finland studied the effect of saunas on more than 2,300 men and found that men who used saunas four to seven times per week lived longer than men who only used saunas once a week.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that frequent sauna users had:

* A 63 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death

* A 50 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease

* A 40 percent overall lower death rate

"I didn't know that. I gotta come here more often," one person said.

"In the sauna it's been shown that the heart rate increases, sort of simulating exercise, and the arteries dilate, which decreases the blood pressure. And this, along with the camaraderie that sometimes takes place in the sauna and the leisure time, that can be very protective for the heart," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum of the Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute of New York.

The men Finch spoke to said they agree with the study's findings, but they also said their use of saunas is just one part of their heart health regimen.

"You're going to find people who come here who are aware, who want to do things for themselves like I'm a cyclist; I do yoga. The sauna just makes sense," said Jay Herrero of Bayside.

Steinbaum said a man's total approach to his health is far more important than his number of sauna trips.

"This is about his entire life and going to the sauna might be just one of the pieces that's showing us that he eats better, he exercises more and he has more time to take care of himself," Steinbaum said.

And sauna therapy isn't for all men. It's not recommended for people with heart conditions, who are on water pills or blood pressure medication, Finch reported.

The doctor Finch spoke to also pointed out this isn't Finland, the country where the study was conducted. Our climate, our diets and overall way of life are different and it makes a difference to a man's heart health.

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