Think sauna and exercise probably isn’t the first image that springs to mind. But a group of University of Eastern Finland researchers, led by cardiology professor Jari Laukkanen, has found a link. Findings of their study in the Journal of Human Hypertension and the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology show a 30-minute sauna provides the heart-healthy benefits of medium-intensity exercise. That can seem like a dream to couch potatoes who enjoy "chillaxing" in a sauna. At heart, stepping into a sauna is about having a good sweat in a controlled heated environment to boost health on a variety of levels. Sweating is natural and "an impulse", medical experts say. Some research shows that sweat boxes, baths, lodges or houses date back about 3,000 years to the Mayans of Central America who used sweat houses for religious ceremonies and for the health benefits. Other research suggests that the Finns were at it even earlier, around 7,000 BC.So popular are saunas in Finland that it’s co...

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