When we see or smell sweat, many of us may think it’s sticky, hot, humid — yuck! Then how can there be any benefits of sweating. It gets a bad wrap. But the truth is — we need sweat. So, we’re changing the narrative of sweat because we believe the best things in life make you sweaty! From working out, to a hot summer day, or even the nervous sweats before a first kiss or big presentation – perspiring reminds us that we are alive and more importantly, we are living outside our comfort zones — in an effort to better ourselves.
WHAT IS SWEAT
Also called perspiration, sweating is the release of a salt-based fluid from your sweat glands Sweat or perspiration, is primarily water with tiny amounts of chemicals, such as: urea, salts, ammonia, uric acid, lactic acid, vitamin C, fat, zinc, nickel, lead chromium and other substances.
Sweat is our body’s natural coolant, and it helps regulate our body temperature. When our internal temperature rises, our sweat glands release water to the surface of our skin. As the water aka sweat evaporates, it cools your skin and your blood beneath your skin.That cool down especially after working out is a game changer.
SWEAT SCIENCE: HOW IT WORKS
Our body’s are equipped with an average of three million sweat glands (this doesn’t change from baby to adult, we don’t lose any or produce any more sweat glands along the way!) Our autonomic nervous system controls our sweating function. This is the part of the nervous system that functions on its own — without our conscious control. Those three million sweat glands mentioned above, they actually are divided into two different types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Here’s more on that and why it’s fascinating:
Eccrine (Common Sweat)
A type of simple sweat gland that is found in almost all regions of the skin. These glands produce sweat that reaches the surface of the skin by way of coiled ducts (tubes). The eccrine sweat gland produces a lightweight, odorless sweat.
This light, watery sweat that happens when you’re walking on the beach during a summer day, or when laying in an infrared sauna. This type of sweat cools as it evaporates off your skin, and it’s the kind of sweat that leaves you drenched when you exercise (or sauna!)
Apocrine (Stress Sweat)
The apocrine sweat glands are concentrated in the hair follicles of the following parts of your body: scalp, armpits and groin.
The sweat produced from these glands feels thick, almost milky, and actually contains fat, which combined with the bacteria in these areas, becomes the distinct odor or yellow armpit stains on beloved white shirts. This “body odor” arrives when the apocrine sweat breaks down and mixes with the bacteria on your skin and comes from the root hairs under your armpits, groin or scalp.
THE MANY BENEFITS OF SWEATING IT OUT
Promotes healthy circulation: When you sweat, heart rate increases and so does circulation of the blood. When the sweat glands on your skin start producing liquid, they drive blood flow to the skin and initiate the circulatory system.
Removes toxins: Sweat contains all sorts of compounds from your body, including harmful toxins like metals. Toxins that are located deep within the skin are pushed to the surface when you begin sweating and are rid from the body.
Helps fight sickness: The detoxifying nature of sweat can boost your immune system and make it stronger for fighting against common ailments. Also, sweat contains the nitrite which acts as an antibacterial and anti-fungal on the skin.
Lowers body temperature: Sweat is the body’s in house way of regulating temperature. Especially important during exercise, sweating helps your body manage excess heat and keep your core internal temperature from rising too quickly or too high.
Promotes healthier, clearer skin: Sweating opens up your pours and thus reduces the chances of them becoming clogged with bacteria or dirt. Sweating works against black head and acne formation.
Speeds healing: Sweating increases your metabolic processes and thus stimulates your immune system. Sweating is your body’s way of healing itself when you are a sick or injured.
And now that you know why sweat is important and beneficial….time to get down to doing it! Get yourself nice and sweaty with these two quick circuit workouts I came up with awhile back!
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 hyperhidrosis and 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.
How to Get the Benefits of Sweating
So sweating is good, but many of us aren’t doing it enough. Here are a few easy ways to make sure we sweat enough:
- Stop Using Antiperspirant
It seems logical, but the first way to get the benefits is to stop blocking your body’s ability to excrete sweat. Antiperspirants can contain heavy metals and also block pores and reduce the body’s ability to sweat.
- Get More Exercise
We all know that exercise induces sweat and has a host of other benefits. But most of us aren’t doing it nearly enough. Find out a way to get in a quick workout once a day for the most benefit.
- Sit in a Sauna
This is my personal favorite way because the effects and the benefits of sweating are noticeable and immediate. We have a two-person sauna in our house and use it often for the many benefits.
So Start Sweating!
Hopefully reviewing these benefits inspires us to get out there and break a sweat. Lift weights, jog in place, swing those kettlebells, or sit in a sauna … today and every day!