This is a great article by Rozalynn Frazier that I thought you would also get value from reading.
We get it—sweating may not be your favorite thing to do, but it is necessary. That’s because sweating, also called perspiration, is a natural bodily function that helps regulate your body temperature, says dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, MD, founder and medical director of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Ala., and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama School of Medicine. Without it, your risk for overheating increases.
Eccrine, the sweat we’re talking about here, is the salty kind sourced from the watery parts of blood and is released from the 2 to 5 million eccrine sweat glands across the surface of the skin. “This is the stuff that floods out when our body temperature rises,” explains Sarah Everts, a science journalist, journalism professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and author of the book, The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration, to help cool us down. (The other kind is produced in the armpits from sweat glands that become active at puberty and is responsible for turning armpits into stink zones from the teenage years onward, says Everts).
While keeping your body temp in check is quite impressive, it isn’t the only natural and healthy benefit of eccrine sweat. Here are four other research-backed ways that this salt-based fluid can benefit you, too.
- Sweating Is Good for Your Skin
Sweat is known to cool the skin, bring toxins to the surface (some, not all, since detoxing is actually a job for your kidneys), and give the skin a glow, says Dr. Hartman. That luminosity can likely be attributed to the fact that those water droplets seeping out of your pores also act as a moisturizer (and for much less money than your favorite beauty buy). Research even shows that sweating can increase and maintain skin hydration when it comes to some inflammatory skin diseases. Not to mention sweat contains traces of urea, a known humectant.
But do note that despite the benefits of sweating, leaving your skin drenched in sweat for a long time can have the opposite effect. “Allowing excess sweat to sit on the skin, or worse, on the skin and [blocked] by sweaty clothing, can cause acne breakouts, encourage infection, and worsen folliculitis or inflammation of the hair follicles,” Dr. Hartman says. “Skin bacteria loves a warm, wet environment and thrives when your skin is hot and wet. These bacteria then accumulate in hair follicles and can cause pus bumps and inflammation that can be itchy, irritating, and lead to hyperpigmentation if not treated aggressively.”
Long story, short, the act of sweating is good for skin, but be sure to wash your face and body as soon as you can post-sweat to avoid breakouts and other skin irritation.
- Sweat Makes You Happy
No, seriously. When you’re hot, your heart picks up its pumping pace. This is done so that “hot blood from the interior can swoosh past the veins near the skin, get cooled down by sweating, and then circle back to cool the interior,” Everts explains. “This workout for your heart releases happy hormones, like endorphins, that give you a biochemical rush of joy and catharsis.
Your sweaty self can also make those around you feel happier too. In a 2015 study, men watched video clips intended to induce fear, happiness, or a neutral emotional state. Sweat samples were collected afterward, and then women were exposed to them. The result: “Happy sweat” sniffers exhibited traits of happiness, such as a genuine or Duchenne smile, which is marked by the upward turn of the corners of the mouth, the lifting of the cheeks, and the crinkling of the skin around the eyes in a way that creates crow’s feet. Those who sniffed the fear-soaked sweat pads exhibited facial characteristics associated with terror.
- Sweating Supports Your Heart
Sitting in the dry heat of a sauna—which can range in temps between 150°F and 195°F—is without a doubt a sweat-inducing event. As the sauna raises your body temperature, your body works overtime to cool itself down by sweating. In fact, during a sauna session, you can secrete about a half a liter of sweat. And you’ll be better for it. Here’s why: A 20-year Finnish study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who sweated it out regularly in a sauna—think four times a week— not only had lower sudden cardiac death, but lower fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. Bonus benefit: A study in the Journal of Human Hypertension revealed that as little as 30 minutes spent in the sauna was also linked to a decrease in blood pressure.
- Sweating at Lot Means You’re Fit
If you’re working out and your sweat is on the heavier side—we’re not talking excessively, though, because that type of sweat is a sign of hyperhidrosis—give yourself a pat on the back. “Athletes active typically sweat sooner and more voluminously than inactive people, and more than the athlete would have prior to starting training,” explains Everts. “That’s because athletic bodies learn that when this individual gets active, they really get active and it’s best to start the cooldown strategy pronto.”
A PLOS ONE study confirms this. When researchers evaluated a group of long-distance runners along with sedentary folks by having them engage in cycling sessions, the runners in the bunch not only got sweatier sooner, but they also activated more sweat glands, resulting in a more profuse outpouring than their nonactive counterparts.
Written by Rozalynn S. Frazier
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