SWEAT IT UP!
The Health Benefits of Sweating
Apart from weight loss, sweating provides some other incredible benefits.
1. Boosts Endorphins
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, hot yoga or just taking a walk can help put a smile on your face.
2. Detox heavy metals
One of the primary functions of sweat is to cool the body down, but the other is detoxification.
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. Help the body remove BPA, PCBs, and other endocrine disruptors
The endocrine disruptor BPA is commonly found in plastics and is one reason to avoid plastic as much as possible. Research shows BPA and its harmful effects are more effectively remedied through sweat than other detox routes.
In addition, studies show PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) found in older building materials and PBDES (a flame retardant chemical) excrete through sweat, not urine. (Also, taking niacin along with sweating can increase the mobilization of stored toxins.)
4. Glowing skin
Like the gut, our skin has its own microbiome balance. Sweat may act as a prebiotic that contributes to healthy skin bacteria. Deep sweating can also improve skin cell turnover and remove pathogenic bacteria from the skin to help with acne.
5. Defeat Harmful Microbes
International studies have shown that sweating can cut our chance of getting the flu by one third! It turns out sweat contains some of the same antimicrobial proteins that are known to bind with certain bacteria and viruses in the body, including H. pylori, E. coli and HIV. These antimicrobial substances help flush out toxins and attack germs.
Research also shows that heat from a sauna helps to kill off infections and pathogenic viruses and quickens healing times.
What’s more, our sweat composition even changes depending on what toxins are in our body and if we have a specific condition or disease. In a study of people with tuberculosis, their sweat contained 26 unique proteins related to their immune function and transportation of proteins across membranes. This suggests our body intuitively knows what proteins to increase to get rid of the issue at hand.
6. Protect your Heart
Sweating through exercise or in the sauna increases circulation and strengthens the cardiovascular system. In a study of regular sauna goers, researchers found that those who had the most weekly sauna sessions were the least likely to have a negative cardiovascular event.
Saunas are also known to promote relaxation and stress relief, which are also good for the heart.
7. Speed Recovery After Exercise
Sweating boosts blood flow to the skeletal muscles. This helps to increase recovery time from illness, injury and muscle strain. Studies show sweating even boosts growth hormone production, which is the body’s way of repairing itself.
8. 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.
9. Decrease Risk of Alzheimer’s
Sweating is known to detox heavy metals from the body, promote relaxation, improve focus, and strengthen blood flow to the brain, all of which have benefits for Alzheimer’s prevention. Frequent sauna use decreased the risk of Alzheimer’s in one study of Finnish men by 65% compared to the group that only used the sauna once a week.
10. 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!)
11. Reduce Menopause Symptoms
Estrogen dominance is thought to be the culprit behind menopausal hot flashes in women, but sweating may be the answer. Researchers found that women who got their heart rate up and sweated during menopause had fewer episodes of hot flashes.
12. Lower Risk of Kidney Stones
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.