6 benefits of sweating
Sweating is good for you...and it's sexy too! Here are some great reasons why you should get your hot yoga sweat on. By Michele Pernetta
It's common knowledge that sweating regulates the amount of heat in the body. When it is hot, the body excretes moisture that evaporates from the body carrying heat along with it. When it is cold, the body readjusts to prevent sweating and subsequently prevents water evaporation leading to the conservation of heat. Here are some other lesser known benefits.
1 Sweating can soothe muscle soreness experts say: "Exercise stimulates neurochemical pathways in the brain, resulting in the production of endorphins that act as natural painkillers," says James Ting, a US-based sports medicine physician.
4 Mood regulation. We associate feeling warm with a sense of wellbeing and relaxation. Research has shown that temperature-sensitive neural circuits in the brain may play a significant role in controlling mood.
2 Sweating is considered a form of innate immunity in animals. Sweat is composed of water and minerals like calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium. It is acidic due to the presence of lactate and urea and these substances can be toxic in microorganisms on the skin. A university study in Germany suggests that perspiration contains an antimicrobial peptide called dermcidin, which fights germs and other pathogens.
5 Lowers kidney stone risk. Research from the University of Washington found that regular exercisers sweat out their salt and tend to retain calcium in their bones, rather than having the salt and calcium go into the kidneys and urine where stones can form. Frequent sweaters also tend to drink more water and fluids, which helps prevent stone formation.
3 Rids the body of toxins. Some experts believe that sweating can flush the body of substances like alcohol, cholesterol and salt. Sweating can also help eliminate harmful bacteria and toxic wastes from the body. Dirt from your pores accumulates on the surface of your skin, so aim to wash your skin after you sweat, especially after working out.
6 It's a sign of health. Not only is sweat sexy, sweat is vital. People who are most in-shape will sweat the most and the most quickly because their bodies are conditioned, notes Neal Pire, a New York-based personal trainer and fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.
- Ensure you are hydrated prior to working out.
- Drink whenever you need to.
- If you feel overheated, or dizzy, sit down, find a cool space and drink cool water, electrolytes or a sports
- If you stop sweating, sit down, cool down, drink electrolytes, take some Himalayan salt or a sports drink.
- Seek medical advice if you feel unwell, experience nausea, headache, confusion, shortness of breath or faintness.
Sweating is sexy
When you work out, muscle contractions generate heat. If you exercise regularly, you're better able to cope, for two reasons:
- The volume of your blood which carries oxygen to exerted muscles is 20% higher, and this provides the fluid for sweating.
- You start sweating sooner because your body has been programmed to recognise the need for cooling faster. (Also, the more efficient you become at sweating, the better you hold on to sodium, which
prevents muscle cramping.) This, in turn, means you'll be able to work out longer.
“It's the reason why a sweaty body looks attractive to people,” says Michael Bergeron, executive director of the National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance. “The image implies active, fit, tough, and resilient.”
Perspiring is good for you. We should be doing more of it.
Disadvantages of sweating
There are, of course, some disadvantages of sweating worth being aware of. Too much sweating can lead to offensive body odour. When water evaporates from the skin, solid material like urea, lactate and salts are left behind. These substances will release unpleasant smells from the individual if not washed away.
Too much sweating can leave us dehydrated. It is important to drink a lot of water and take electrolytes such
as salts in hot climates. But normal sweating in hot climates is not bad for you.
Michele Pernetta is director and chief instructor at Fierce Grace (fiercegrace.com)
Read more of the Hot Yoga Special Report from the February 2023 issue.