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Sweating can be embarrassing if you’re at school, work, or spending a night out on the town. Sweat marks and the stench could leave you in a pit of embarrassment but could also be beneficial to your health. The almost 1 liter of sweat our bodies produce per day can strengthen our immune system and give us healthy-looking skin.
Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael, a dermatologist at Radiant Skin Dermatology and Laser in New York City told Medical Daily in an email: “Sweating is the way the body and the skin protects itself from overheating. Sweating also increases the blood circulation in the body.” The drips of perspiration is proof our body has a built-in mechanism for keeping cool, which can help open up and unclog pores.
Don’t be afraid to sweat it out with these 7 health benefits that actually don’t stink.
True, some of us find sweating takes effort and is even a little unpleasant, but the health benefits of sweating are worth getting hot and sticky over!
It seems like a basic question, but sweating is more complicated than it looks. Each of us has about 4 million sweat glands that excrete a mixture of water, salt, amino acids, proteins, and other substances. The exact composition varies based on our hormone balance, physiological changes, and what bacteria and viruses are in the body.
Interestingly, sweat composition and how our glands function (or don’t) tell a lot about our health and are even used to diagnose certain conditions like cystic fibrosis.
Prolonged sweating is expected to occur at the gym during an intense workout or even brisk walking in the sun. Exercising increases the level of the “feel-good” endorphin hormones that are naturally released during physical activity. A 2009 study published in the journal Biology Letters found group workouts actually increase endorphin levels and cause less pain for those who work out together than those who train alone. Sweating it out during a group exercises like Zumba or hot yoga can help put a smile on your face.
2. Detoxifies Body
One of the most efficient ways to detox your body — without the juicing — is to sweat. Sweating can flush the body of substances of alcohol, cholesterol, and salt. The body releases toxins by using sweat as the conduit. “Sweat purges the body of toxins that can clog pores and plague the skin with pimples and blemishes,” Dele-Michael said.
A 2011 study published in the journal Archives of Environmental and Contamination Toxicology found many toxic elements appeared to be excreted through sweat. Induced sweating appears to be a potential method for the elimination of many toxic elements from the human body. Researchers believe sweat analysis could be considered as an additional method for the monitoring of toxic elements in humans rather than just blood and/or urine testing.
One of the primary functions of sweat is to cool the body down, but the other is detoxification. Despite some claims that detoxing through sweat is dangerous nonsense, there’s a lot of evidence to back up this function of sweat. One study found that those with mercury toxicity had their levels return to a safe amount after sweating sessions, as it also excretes arsenic, cadmium, and lead.
With China experiencing record level of industrial pollution, toxic heavy metal buildup is a major concern. A study of Chinese residents found that those who exercised more had fewer toxins in their body and that the elimination of heavy metals was more concentrated in sweat that urine. This seems to indicate that those who exercised had fewer toxins because they perspired more.
3. Lowers Kidney Stone Risk
Sweating can be an effective way to sweat out the salt and retain calcium in your bones. This limits the accumulation of salt and calcium in the kidneys and urine, which is where the stones come from. It is no coincidence people who sweat tend to drink more water and fluids, which is another prevention method for kidney stones.
A study presented at the 2013 American Urological Association conference in San Diego, Calif., found even walking for a couple of hours a week could cut the risk for developing kidney stones. Mild to moderate activity changes the way the body handles nutrients and fluids that affect stone formation. Sweating helps flush out the system more efficiently because it demands more hydration from the body.
Interestingly, there’s another bonus to sweating more often. Although incidence of kidney stones in women over 50 has risen dramatically in recent years, researchers at the University of Washington found the benefits of sweating through consistent exercise reduces this risk. Excess salt and calcium can form kidney stones over time, but sweating boosts the body’s natural balance and directs calcium to our bones instead.
After researching these benefits of sweating, I’m convinced … and vowing never to skip a workout again
4. Prevents Colds And Other Illnesses
Perspiring can actually help fight tuberculosis germs and other dangerous pathogens. Dr. Diane De Fiori, a dermatologist at the Rosacea Treatment Clinic in Melbourne, Australia, told Medical Daily in an email: “Sweat contains antimicrobial peptides effective against viruses, bacteria, and fungi. These peptides are positively charged and attract negatively charged bacterial, enter the membranes of bacteria, and break them down.”
A 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences proved dermcidin is a highly effective tool to fight not only tuberculosis germs but other dangerous bugs. The researchers believe these natural substances are more effective in the long-term than traditional antibiotics because germs are not capable of quickly developing resistance to them. The natural antibiotic is naturally activated in salty, slightly acidic sweat.
5. Lower Stress Hormones
Sweating activates the parasympathetic response in the body that allows us to relax, digest properly, and recover. Breaking a sweat in the sauna or through exercise helps to boost our happy hormone and relieve anxiety and depression. Cortisol and stress hormones reduce after sweating, while other adrenal hormones help maintain a proper electrolyte balance increase.
6. Zaps Zits
Your pores open up when you sweat and that releases the buildup inside them. According to Dele-Michael, “Sweat purges the body of toxins that can clog pores and plague the skin with pimples and blemishes.”
These skin benefits only apply to mild or moderate sweating. Excessive sweating, formally known as hyperhidrosis, can actually predispose individuals to skin infections such as warts and tinea. “Eczema and rashes occur more often in people with hyperhidrosis,” De Fiori said.
Sweating does have its pros and cons when it comes to your health. To avoid sweating profusely, avoid triggers such as caffeine and wearing natural materials, De Fiori said, and opt for possible treatments like prescription antiperspirants, and even Botox. Remember, it’s OK to sweat it out when you dance or workout.
7. Boost Sexual Drive and Attraction
When sweat is excreted, it carries certain pheromones with it. While our noses may not be able to notice the scent, our brains do. One study found that when men excreted pheromones through sweat it improved both mood and focus as well as increased attraction from women. (Even though it seems like the opposite would be true!)
Why Some People Sweat More (Or Less)
Even though sweating is a free and easy way to boost health, we don’t all sweat the same. Here are some reasons why the amount we sweat might vary:
- Men vs. Women– A study of both male and female athletes found that men tend to sweat more than their female counterparts. (I think we all knew that already!) The study found this is because the men had significantly more muscle mass, so their bodies had to work harder to cool.
- Weight – Similarly, people who carry extra weight around sweat more.
- Toxicity– People who have more of a toxic load tend to sweat more, since their body is working overtime to eliminate the toxins.
- Hyperhidrosis – Some people sweat 4-5 times what a normal person does. This condition is called hyperhidrosisand is thought to be primarily triggered by infection, medications, overactive nerves due to genetics, or hypothyroid.
- Tattoos– One side effect of getting inked? Losing more sodium and electrolytes in tattoo covered areas. This probably won’t affect someone with a small tattoo here or there, but suggests significant ink over large areas of the body impedes the health benefits of sweating significantly.