Sometimes, it seems like sweating is just an inconvenience – it soaks our shirts through on a hot summer day, requires us to change after a bike ride into work, and leaves unattractive stains on our favorite white shirts.
Despite this, we always hear from health experts and fitness gurus that we should sweat at least once a day – and for good reason! Sweating has major advantages simply because it’s a by-product of exercise, which offers a spectrum of its own health benefits. However, sweating itself – whether from exercising, sitting in a sauna, or walking around on a hot day – is a necessary bodily function that does a world of good. Let’s look at some reasons why you should break a sweat today – and every day!
- Sweating rids the body of toxins: A clinical study found that participants’ sweat samples contained a range of toxins, including pesticides DDT/DDE, endosulfan, methoxychlor, and endrin. In fact, nearly all parent compounds of pesticides were found in the samples studied, which shows that sweating is an effective way of diminishing your body’s toxic burden.
Sweating protects the kidneys: In a study of over 85,000 women, researchers found that women who had 10 METs/week of exercise were 31% less likely to develop kidney stones than women who did not sweat at all. The researchers contributed this finding to sweat, which allows the body to get rid of salt and retain calcium in the bones (both are main components in kidney stones).
Fortunately, these results are easy to achieve at home. 10 METs per week is a very mild amount of additional activity – 1 minute of vigorous jump rope, or 2 minutes of moderate bicycling. To look at how many METs a certain exercise has, this study has a helpful chart.
- Sweat has germ-fighting agents: One study looked at the components of sweat, and discovered that it contains a naturally-occurring antimicrobial peptide called dermcidin. This compound, which is exclusively found in sweat, helps protect the skin against harmful bacteria in the first few hours after contact. Who needs antibacterial gel when you have all-natural sweat!
- Sweating helps clear your skin: When you sweat, it opens your pores and releases the dirt and grime that leads to break-outs, blackheads, and unhealthy-looking skin. Sweating brings all this grime out in the open, so it’s easy to wash away! Be sure to wash your face with a mild, organic soap immediately after sweating to clear away the released dirt before it can resettle in your pores.
Next time you feel yourself tempted to stay on the couch instead of going for a run, or opt to stay in the air conditioning instead of going for a walk in the sun, think of all the “sweaty” benefits that you’re not getting! Breaking a sweat might seem like pain, but it’s worth it to keep your skin, immune system, and internal detox systems healthy and well-functioning!
Genuis, Stephen J., Kevin Lane, and Detlef Birkholz. "Human Elimination of Organochlorine Pesticides: Blood, Urine, and Sweat Study." BioMed Research International 2016 (2016).
Sorensen, Mathew D., et al. "Activity, energy intake, obesity, and the risk of incident kidney stones in postmenopausal women: a report from the Women’s Health Initiative." Journal of the American Society of Nephrology25.2 (2014): 362-369.
Ainsworth, Barbara E., et al. "Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities." Medicine and science in sports and exercise 32.9; SUPP/1 (2000): S498-S504.
Schittek, Birgit, et al. "Dermcidin: a novel human antibiotic peptide secreted by sweat glands." Nature immunology 2.12 (2001): 1133-1137.
Song, Chen, et al. "Crystal structure and functional mechanism of a human antimicrobial membrane channel." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110.12 (2013): 4586-4591.
Rittié, Laure, et al. "Eccrine sweat glands are major contributors to reepithelialization of human wounds." The American journal of pathology182.1 (2013): 163-171.