A sauna does more than build up a sweat - it can be a life saver, new research suggests.
Middle-aged men who take frequent saunas are significantly less likely to die from heart conditions than those who do not, scientists have found.
Those who visited saunas most often - up to once every day - experienced the greatest benefit. Even compared with men who took one sauna a week, their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was 50pc lower.
Longer time spent sweating it out in each sauna session also appeared to be protective.
The study was conducted among 2,315 men aged 42 to 60 from Finland, where there is a strong sauna tradition.
Researchers followed their progress for around 21 years comparing death rates between those who went to the sauna once a week and others who made more frequent visits.
The risk of sudden cardiac death was found to be 22pc lower for men who had two to three sauna sessions per week and 63pc lower for those visiting a sauna four to seven times a week.
For all-cause mortality, a sauna two to three times a week was associated with a 24pc lower risk of death and four to seven visits with a reduction of 40pc.
The research, led by Dr Jari Laukkanen, from the University of Eastern Finland at Kuopio, is reported online in the journal Jama Internal Medicine.