The Real Reasons We Love to Sweat
That hot, sticky, sweaty feeling—though at times the telltale sign of nerves or discomfort—is in fact one of our body’s favorite activities. Sweat’s main function is to regulate internal temperature, but its power extends beyond a cool down. It can shift our body chemistry, flush out cortisol hormones, and release “happy” neurotransmitters, too.
Here is your quick cheat sheet to learn the benefits of sweating it out:
Sweat May Counteract Stress
Stress: it seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. One positive consequence of squeezing in a sweat session most days of the week, is the way that it helps your body physically move through emotional stress. Sweat and exercise, as they raise the body’s temperature, help to support the endocrine system, which regulates the stress hormone, cortisol. Note here, that over-exercising or engaging in high intensity workouts on particularly stressful work weeks can have a negative impact on your stress levels and other biomarkers for stress. The tip here? Aim to break a sweat in gentler ways, like swimming, yoga, or sunny hikes to get the full scope of benefits.
Sweat May Increase Circulation
In many healing modalities including Traditional Chinese Medicine, movement is life and disease is stagnation or blocks. Sweating helps to circulate blood flow and lymph movement, which can help you to experience less swelling and puffiness overall in body tissues.
Sweat May Help Strengthen the Body’s Immune Response
There have been many compelling scientific studies over the last century that draw the connection between breaking a sweat, strengthened immune activity, and the body’s natural defense mechanisms. While sweat isn’t a direct immune booster per se, the cleansing action helps to rid the body of pathogens on the skin, as well as encourage lymph movement (as stated above), which supports immune health.
Sweat May Spike Happy Hormones
After a long run or an exhilarating hot yoga class, you might experience an overwhelming sense of euphoria paired with your drenched clothes. Also known as the runner’s high, exercise—and the sweat that accompanies—rushes the body with endorphins, increases the body’s supply of endocannabinoids, and stimulates new neuron development, thanks to the increase in blood and oxygen supply. This combination on a consistent enough basis can make you crave the “feeling good” part that comes with sweat.
Sweat May Improve Skin Clarity and Tone
The glow that emanates after a solid sweat session is not just aesthetically pleasing—it’s also healing. As it moisturizes and cools the skin, sweat also contains antibiotics called antimicrobial peptides that may help to protect the body against germs and pathogens. Important to note—don’t let sweat rest on skin for too long, or it can cause irritation and inflame the dermis. Hop in a cold shower to stimulate circulation further for the ultimate skin-loving routine.
Bonus: The Hydration Advantage
Where do the benefits get a little murky? The claims that sweating is a full-body detox. While that idea has been hotly contested, sweating does—in a roundabout way—help us detoxify, but proper hydration is a critical part of that equation. To replenish the minerals lost post-sweat, drinking electrolytes and B vitamins may help to support the detox organs (think: liver and kidneys), which ultimately help to expel more toxins and heavy metals via a trip to the bathroom. All the more reason to prioritize a routine that includes both sweating and hydrating.
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