We all sweat –everyone has around three million sweat glands and we produce around a liter of perspiration a day– but why do we sweat?
Sweating is essential to stop the body from overheating, that is why it is one of the most important biological processes. Sweat is made of water, minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, and toxins. But apart from being a cooling mechanism, do you know why we sweat?
Emotional sweating and "normal sweating"
When your body temperature rises from exercise, heat, stress or hormone shifts, sweating helps keep your internal temperature. If your temperature rises above the normal, your organs cannot function the right way, that is why it is so important to maintain a healthy body temperature. The increase of stress hormones affects our nervous system –especially when we are nervous or embarrassed–, and as our body does not see the difference between physical or emotional stress, it reacts by sweating.
While sweating is a physical response to exercising, it is connected to your body trying to regulate its temperature as a result of the increased heat and blood flow produced by your muscles. But it is not connected to how many calories you've burnt nor the effort you put in your training. As a matter of fact, as you get fitter, your body tends to sweat less and less, because it gets used to the core temperature while working out.
Benefits of sweating
Sweating is one of the ways our body gets rid of toxins, it stimulates the lymph glands and helps them flush out things that are not necessary and in this way it reduces inflammation. Scientists have also found that sweat acts as the first line of defense against pathogens, as it contains a natural antibiotic –dermcidin. It also cleans clogged arteries, reduces excess salt, cholesterol and alcohol.
When we do sweat all over, as with intense exercise, good things happen to our body:
- circulation increases throughout our organs, muscles, and tissue
- our skin releases certain toxins, like alcohol and waste products, to help our bodies detoxify
- the elimination of salt from the body can help prevent kidney stones from forming
- prolonged sweating also leads to increased thirst and the need to drink more water, which is also helpful in lowering the risk of kidney stones
- the pores on our skin open up and allow for a protective barrier to form against pathogens, reducing bacteria on the skin (this can benefit many skin problems like acne)