12 reasons why sweating is so great for you

by Tobias 8 minutes read

Last updated: 20 Jun, 2022

There's no shame in being the sweatiest girl in spin class.

I don't sweat, I glisten. I don't sweat, I sparkle. I don't sweat, I glow.

These mantras dot cups, journals, T-shirts, all kinds of inanimate objects. But sweat isn't icky. Or shameful. Nor does it need to be prettily euphemized. Slowly, surely, more and more women are embracing the beautiful mess that is their sweat. It's not something to be feared, it's just a part of life, something that we all do.

Sweat Keeps Us Alive

Sweats main function is very important, it maintains your body temperature to close as possible to the optimcal 98.6 degrees. During excercise your body works harder to pump blood and deliver more oxygen to your working muscles, this in turn raises your temperature triggering your sweat glands to start producing sweat. When the sweat evaporates it takes heat with it and this is what lowers your core body temp.

"If you didn't sweat during even moderate activity, you'd overheat in 10 to 12 minutes," says Christopher Minson, Ph.D., co-director of the Exercise and Environmental Physiology Labs at the University of Oregon in Eugene. The result? Potential fainting, heat stroke, kidney problems, and even death.

It fights inflammation to help you get fit, fast.

Inflammation is one of the biggest buzz killers for your metabolism and cardiovascular fitness. However, when you sweat, this gives the green-light a series of positive reactions: Your heart rate increases to keep blood pumping to your moving muscles, which in turn increases blood flow and the strength of every contraction over time. Your body also starts creating more and more heat-shock proteins. Heat shock proteins are a special set of responders that safeguard other proteins from damage, repair any damaged ones, and signal production of new, healthy proteins. Studies show these can even block cells that activate inflammation in the body.

...And gives more energy for the next workout.

Contrary to popular belief, the fitter you are, the faster you'll sweat.

"When you sweat early into your workout, it means you're able to regulate your temperature before it gets too high, which requires less energy," says Lawrence Armstrong, Ph.D., director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

The earlier you start to regulate your temperature, the more energy you will have left to push harder in your actual workout.

You'll reduce cramp

Sweat is almost entirely made up of water, but it also contains trace amounts of salt, potassium, and carbs. These other components, whilst tiny are vital to maintaining your health. Sodium helps balance the amount of water inside and outside your cells, as well as in your blood, in order to keep your body hydrated. Lose too much of it and your body will fatigue quicker your muscles will cramp and in extreme cases can cause very severe health issues.

The good news is, the more frequently you sweat, the better your body gets at conserving salt instead of letting it trickle out of your pores, says Armstrong. (Studies show eight to 14 consecutive days of exercising in heat can make a significant difference.) The best way to tell if you're getting in better shape? You see fewer white streaks from salt on your face or clothes, or notice less gritty-feeling skin post-workout.

...And perhaps even recover faster

"When you're working hard enough to sweat, your increased blood flow will carry more metabolites—or by-products from exercise-induced muscle damage—away from your muscles, which can help you feel less sore following your workout," says Patricia Christie, Ph.D., head of biology and chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Experimental Study Group.

The perfect amount is to be slightly more than comfortably warm, but not so hot that you have to cut your workout short and hamper your results.

It can keep your liver healthy

A common theory is that a sweaty session after a night of boozing or unhealthy eating will detox you. Unfortunately, science says otherwise. "Any waste you secrete through your sweat glands [in one workout] is too minimal to make a real difference," says Minson.

Like with most things, there is no alternative to hard work. Consistent cardio exercise can protect your liver, helping it do its job clearing your body of all those nasty toxins you've ingested on a blurry Friday night.

...and guard against infection.

Research shows more than 70 percent of bacteria found in the gym can make you sick. But counter-intuitively our sweat contains a natural antibiotic called dermcidin, which can actually protect you from harmful germs by killing them on contact.

you could feel more connected to your workout

"There is something emotionally transformative about getting really, profusely sweaty," says Janet Buckworth, Ph.D., head of kinesiology at the University of Georgia in Athens. "We always worry about looking presentable, but being drenched in sweat forces you to shift your focus from your appearance to your experience."

The results of this is you can fully concentrate on your workout and lose mental inhibitions that might stop you from giving it your all.

....and more satisfied after

Sweat is immediate evidence of the hard work you've put in, wear it like a badge of honour. "Our bodies are never going to visibly change by the end of one run or strength-training session," says Buckworth. "We know this, but we all crave instant proof of our hard work." Sweat, whether it's a soaking t-shirt or drops from your chin, is just that.

It could improve your self image

All it takes is 20 minutes of sweaty activity to feel stronger and even slimmer, per a new study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise. It's potentially more than just the immediate mood lift from the release of endorphins, exercising at a moderate to vigorous intensity actually encourages you to see yourself in a new light right after the event, a perk that researchers say can improve your internal dialogue over time.

...and hydrate your skin

The surface oil that sweat produces protects your skin from the drying effects of the elements, even after you've rinsed off, says dermatologist Neil Sadick, M.D., founder of Sadick Dermatology in NYC. To maximise this benefit, wash your face only when it starts to feel oily, this will prevent you from messing with your skin's natural equilibrium.

sweat can even make you comfier in your skin

"There are few times when a woman is more raw and real than when she is dripping sweat, her hair is wrecked, and her makeup is smudged or missing," Buckworth says. "If you can be okay, even content, with that powerful version of yourself, you can up your confidence for the long haul." Not just at the gym, everywhere beyond it too.

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