Sweat can be a pain. It’s one of those things in life that seems to have more downsides than benefits. Outside of the gym, it’s embarrassing when your armpits, back, and other areas are visibly wet. Not only does it soak your clothing, but it contributes to body odor when bacteria is part of the picture.
Antiperspirants claim to block moisture, and excess sweating has its own medical diagnosis. All of this begs the question of whether sweat is a good thing. Instead, maybe it’s actually a problem we need to solve or manage.
Why Do We Sweat?
Sweating might seem like a nuisance – but it’s actually beneficial for our bodies.
You might already know the main purpose of perspiration, which is to cool down your body when you get too hot. When you’re jogging or it’s a hot summer day, you’re thankful for the cooling effect of all that sweat, right? The body has eccrine glands all over for this purpose. The way this cooling works is that the moisture on your skin evaporates to manage body temperature and prevent overheating. The evaporation that turns the liquid into a gas is key to the cooling, whereas sweat dripping off your body doesn’t offer the same effect.
Sweating is the body’s natural air conditioner
This cooling effect is a crucial benefit. We can confirm that by looking at people who have the health condition anhidrosis, which makes it so they don’t properly cool down. In extreme cases, this condition can make people feel dizzy and pass out. So basically, sweating’s not the problem. Instead, it’s a problem when people can’t sweat correctly.
Another biological reason the body sweats is for procreation. Our bodies have a different type of sweat gland called apocrine glands in the armpit and groin areas. On top of giving off sweat, these glands give off a musky scent toward the purpose of attracting partners.
Health Benefits of Sweating
A natural bodily function: sweat cleanses the body
Beyond its main purposes of regulating body temperature and helping with procreation, sweating actually offers a range of benefits to your body and health. First of all, it helps to cleanse your body. It’s similar to other ways your body removes waste and unwanted materials from itself. These methods can be gross at times but are necessary. They’re helping your health and everyday wellness more than harming it.
Sweat cleanses the skin
It might seem like your skin is dirty when it’s covered in a layer of sweat, but in actuality, sweating helps cleanse your skin. During the sweating process, the pores on your skin open and let out dirt and other gunk that’s been sticking around. At the same time, you’re actually right when you feel dirty after sweating. The problem is that you need to help the sweat do its skin-cleaning job. It will release the gunk from your pores, but then you need to wash the sweat and gunk from your skin so it doesn’t stay on the surface.
Reduces risk of kidney stones
Sweating also provides the major benefit of reducing the risk of getting kidney stones. Sweating releases salt, while exercise also helps keep calcium in your bones instead of moving through the body. These actions, on top of drinking extra fluids because of sweating so much, help keep calcium and salt from the kidneys where they could develop into kidney stones.
Exercising – AKA doing things that make you sweat – is good for you!
Of course, you can expect additional health benefits from exercise, which is one of the main reasons for sweating in bulk. If you don’t already know, exercise can increase strength, improve cardiovascular health, cut down on the risk of disease, improve your mood, and offer many more benefits.
Sweat can help to release toxins
Sweating is also touted for releasing certain toxins from the body. These include substances that can be harmful to the body in excess, such as salt and alcohol. Amazingly enough, a study found that sweat naturally includes an antimicrobial substance that has been shown to block certain germs. It has the potential to keep you healthy from skin infections and also to ward off certain illnesses.
The Downsides of Sweat
As you know, sweat doesn’t always make people smile. Like most things in life, it has its negatives to balance out the positives. You might not like the fact that you can’t control when or where your sweat appears.
Most of the time, it’s not the sweating itself causing problems. The downsides of perspiration come when sweat combines with another factor like bacteria or when sweating is not happening correctly due to blockages, health conditions, or other concerns.
Trapped sweat is not good for your clothes
One notable problem with sweat is that it makes us stink. But it’s not the sweat itself that’s smelly. It simply contributes to the smell. This happens because bacteria on skin digests the sweat you make and turns it into bacterial stink. The bacterial stink can transfer to your clothing, shoes, and gear through your sweat, giving everything a funk.
Also, some people get skin rashes and irritation when they sweat. It’s not the sweat causing this rash but rather blocked pores that aren’t releasing the sweat. The sweat gets stuck and can lead to blisters, lumps, itchiness, and other symptoms. This problem often happens because something is in the way of the pores. It could be clothing, skin folds, or areas of the body that close like armpits and elbows.
Stress sweat – nerves and embarrassment
The sweat from the apocrine glands in the armpits and groin is different from other areas, as it has extra nutrients. So in addition to this sweat already having its musky scent, its nutrients make it very desirable to the bacteria that can create body odor. Have you heard of stress sweat? These glands are behind that. When you’re nervous, upset, stressed, or even excited, your body can activate these glands, leading to sweating and stink. This response only makes the thing you were nervous about that much worse.
As if you need another reason not to like sweat, it can yellow and ruin your clothing. This is happening from the reaction of sweat with certain antiperspirants and deodorants.