Why you sweat and how it benefits your body.
It may be gross, uncomfortable, smelly, and even embarrassing, but sweating is a completely normal and even healthy part of a healthy life. Damp underarms and drips of sweat from your forehead are expected and even needed during exercise or hot temperatures. Despite this, many of today’s cultures go to great lengths to avoid sweat and cover it up. Pleasant-smelling people are nicer to be around, aren’t they?
You may sweat a lot or your may be one of those who doesn’t sweat much. Should you be sweating more? Maybe. So why does your body sweat, how is it good for you, and what’s a normal amount of sweat? You’re about to find out.
Regulates Body Temperature
Imagine working in the garden outside when the temperature is in the upper 80s. Or picture yourself nervously giving a presentation in front of a group of coworkers. In both situations, you begin to sweat. That’s because hot temperatures, fever, exercise, spicy foods, and emotions such as anxiety or excitement stimulate your sweat glands to release sweat.
Adults have between 2 and 5 million sweat glands in their bodies. Sweat is mostly water, but also is also made of lactic acid, minerals, ammonia, sugar, and urea. This moisture on your skin is needed to help keep your body temperature at a normal level. As the sweat evaporates off your skin, your internal body temperature begins to cool down.
Improves Your Health
Sweating increases your heart rate, your breathing, your circulation, and your metabolism as your body works to cool itself down. Through this process, sweating cleanses your body of toxins. This is why many people enjoy steam rooms, saunas, and bathhouses. As you know, some cultures emphasize this method of cleansing more than others.
Sweat washes impurities and dirt out of your pores and off your skin. Regular sweating and washing will improve the texture and appearance of your skin.
When your body is warm, it produces more white blood cells, which are important for a strong healthy immune system. So strangely enough, sweating may be a way to boost your immune system.
As an added perk, sweating helps you shed pounds. Okay, sweat itself isn’t going to cause weight to fall off your hips. After all, sweat is mostly water, which you will quickly replace with a drink. But activities that generate sweat will burn calories—especially those activities that are supposed to make you sweat (exercise). The work it takes your body to regulate its temperature also burns a few calories.
Too Much or Too Little
If you’re trying to shed a few pounds, your goal should be to sweat often. Work up a sweat by exercising in your target heart rate zone, exerting yourself, and increasing the intensity of your workout. Walk farther, jog faster, or include hills along the way. Sweating while exercising is a sign you’re working hard enough to burn calories.
Not sweating when you push yourself during exercise or are exposed to high temperatures may indicate that you have anhidrosis—an inability to sweat normally. A dangerous condition, anhidrosis may lead to overheating, rash, dizziness, or fainting. See your doctor if you’re concerned about not sweating. Do note, however, that not sweating isn’t necessarily a problem. Some people just naturally have fewer sweat glands and therefore sweat less.
On the other hand, hyperhidrosis is when your body sweats more than it needs to. This condition affects about three percent of adults. It can be hard to diagnose, but you’ll know if you sweat more than your friends and family. Thought not typically a serious medical issue, excessive sweating can hurt your social life, your relationships, and cause anxiety.
Medical conditions that contribute to excessive sweating include thyroid problems, diabetes, hormonal changes such as menopause and pregnancy, stroke, cancer, heart failure, or alcoholism. Certain medications can also cause abnormal amounts of sweat. If excessive sweating is interfering with your quality of life, make an appointment to see your doctor.
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