7 Reasons Why You Want to Sweat

There’s a saying that men sweat and women perspire, and you may be familiar with the one about “sweating like a pig.” Both of these sayings, and many others about sweating, don’t cast a very positive light on this natural bodily function. In fact, many people take great steps to avoid sweating. Yet there are many health reasons why you want to sweat.

You probably don’t want to sweat when you are about to give a speech, make an impression during a job interview, or meet your new in-laws. When you sweat in these and other situations, it is in response to an emotional circumstance. The other reasons people sweat are in response to exercise, heat, or hormone changes (e.g., peri or menopause).

The body has two main types of sweat glands: eccrine, which can be found throughout the body; and apocrine, which are located mainly in the genital area and armpits. If you are nervous about meeting your new boss, your palms may sweat. That’s because the palms have a high density of eccrine glands, and the palms tend to be triggered mainly by emotions. Most of the body sweats in response to heat, but the glands in the armpits are stimulated by both emotional situations and heat.

The Health Benefits of Sweating

Improves heart health. A specific type of sweating—during sauna use—has been associated with a reduced risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and deaths from all causes. This finding was reported by Finnish experts in a Journal of the American Medical Association report in which the authors evaluated more than 2,300 middle-aged men and looked at their sauna use frequency. Generally, the more often men used the sauna (up to 7 times per week), the more likely they were to avoid the cardiovascular issues and death from any cause.

Raises endorphin levels. When you experience prolonged sweating during a Zumba or spinning session, for example, you are also boosting your endorphin levels. Numerous studies have shown that these feel-good hormones are naturally released when you exercise. An added bonus of endorphins is that they help mitigate pain, so sweating may provide you with some welcome relief as well.

Cleans your pores and detoxifies. There is a pro and con to this consequence of sweating. A “normal” amount of sweating opens up your pores and allows the body to release toxins and other waste materials such as salts and cholesterol that can block the pores and result in pimples and other skin irritants.

In a 2011 study from the University of Alberta, the authors reported that “many toxic elements appeared to be preferentially excreted through sweat” and that “induced sweating appears to be a potential method for elimination of many toxic elements from the human body.” This latter statement indicates that use of a sauna, for example, can be quite beneficial for detox purposes.

Some individuals, however, are prone to excessive sweating, which can result in rashes, eczema, and skin infections. One way to help reduce any excess sweating is to avoid foods and beverages that contain caffeine and to wear cotton and other natural fabrics, which allow the skin to breathe.

Helps relieve stress and support calm.
Sweating is one of the body’s natural responses to stress - it's actually a part of the “fight or flight” response, so although it may be unpleasant at times, it serves a purpose. You begin to sweat when the response is triggered by an anxious situation and hormones rush through your body. These boost your blood flow and heart rate, which then subside and return to normal, restoring calm and relieving stress.

Read about 5 tips for natural stress management

Maintains proper body temperature.
This is one of the most fundamental functions of sweating. The body responds naturally to changes in temperature (heat), physical activity, hormone changes, and emotions and helps maintain a healthy body temperature.

Kills bacteria and viruses. Your sweat contains antimicrobial peptides that can fight a variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. An international team of experts discovered how dermacidin, a natural antibiotic produced by the skin when we sweat, is effective against germs. Sweat spreads this and other natural antibiotics on to our skin and acts to protect us against a variety of dangerous bugs. According to researchers, these peptides are more effective than traditional antibiotics in the long run because germs are incapable of quickly developing resistance against them.

Reduces risk of kidney stones. When we sweat, we lose salt, which is why it’s important to replace that salt if we perspire excessively. Losing some salt is a good thing, however, because it helps retain calcium in your bones and also lowers the amount of salt and calcium that can accumulate in the urine and kidneys, it can lead to the formation of kidney stones.

The relationship between sweating and kidney stones can work the other way, however, because too much water loss results in less urine production and dehydration, which can lead to kidney stones. Therefore, that’s why the National Kidney Foundation emphasizes that it’s essential to keep well hydrated when you are in the heat or exercising.

Cohen EEA et al. Rowers’ high: behavioural synchrony is correlated with elevated pain thresholds. Biology Letters 2009 Sep 15 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0670
Genuis SJ et al. Blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study: monitoring and elimination of bioaccumulated toxic elements. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 2011 Aug; 61(2): 344-57
Laukkanen T et al. Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Internal Medicine 2015 Apr; 175(4): 542-48
National Kidney Foundation. Can sweating cause kidney stones?
Song C et al. Crystal structure and functional mechanism of a human antimicrobial membrane channel. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2013; 110(12): 4586-91

By Andrea Donsky| July 28, 2017
Categories:  Live

About the Author

Andrea Donsky

Andrea Donsky

Founder & Chief Passionista at NaturallySavvy.com. See my full bio here.

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