Most of us are well acquainted with the paranoia of having sweat marks under our arms, or giving off a bit of an aromatic tang in the presence of another human being.
We all sweat, but any degree of noticeable perspiration is pretty much a no-no in any civilized setting.
However, we want to take a different tack and celebrate sweat in all its glory. Sweat serves a number of very important functions, as a primal method of communication, an emotional barometer, a detoxification agent and a cooling mechanism, just to name a few. Many cultures have an ingrained tradition of sweating as therapy. Along with a number of other traditional remedies that are now gaining scientific recognition, sweating has a lot of positive effects to offer.
There is a saying that the cure for every problem is salt water: tears, the ocean, or sweat. We are inclined to agree.
Here are some of the amazing benefits of a good sweat, and why you should try to get one going every day!
Improves circulation and blood pressure
Whether you sweat in a sauna or by exercising, the heat in your body causes circulation to increase. This brings a rush of mood-boosting endorphins and a normalizing effect to blood pressure. Sweating in a sauna can also help with muscle spasms and seasonal affective disorder.
Although we usually think of detoxifying via liquid and solid waste, the skin is actually one of the main organs of detoxification. It allows us to excrete waste products such as urea, lactic acid and ammonia. We can also expel dry skin, dirt and toxins, which otherwise stay in and on the skin. Experts say that as much as 30 percent of your body’s waste products can be excreted via sweat.
Lifts your mood
Anything that leads to sweating generally makes you feel happier. Relaxing in a sauna or on the beach? Check. Going for an exhilarating run, bike or paddle? Check. Enjoying a romp in the park, or maybe even between the sheets? Sure!
Sweating goes hand in hand with recreation and release. It’s the antithesis of stress!
Protects against kidney stones
Some say that sweating may help prevent kidney stones by encouraging calcium to stay in the bones and teeth, while salt gets eliminated through the skin.
When you are sick and you get cold sweats, this is your body’s natural mechanism to help you get better by releasing some internal heat. Sweat also contains antimicrobial compounds that can help fight off harmful bacteria and viruses.
Helps you look great
When you sweat, your complexion glows and you get a flush of blood, since sweating helps small blood vessels at the surface of your skin to dilate. What better way to look and feel vibrant and alive! Some say sweating even helps delay the onset of the signs of aging, keeping skin soft and supple.
After the exhilaration and stress relief provided by sweating, many people find that they are ready for a good sleep. This may be thanks to the rapid cooling of the body after being hot and sweaty.
Inspiration for working up a good sweat
Here are some ideas if you’re wondering how to get started:
- Turn on some upbeat music and show off your best moves (to the mirror, or your cat).
- Run up and down the stairs 10 times. Take them two at a time on the way up.
- Enjoy a session in an infrared sauna.
- Do sets of 20 jumping jacks alternating with 20 burpees.
- Find that old skipping rope and try doing as many jumps in a row as you can.
- Go for a brisk walk with a friend.
- Chop some wood in the backyard.
- Climb a tree.
- Have a playdate with a two-year-old child, and do every movement she/he does.
Don’t just sit there, get some comfortable clothes on and go work up a sweat! Whether it takes one minute or ten, go at your own pace. Your body and your mind will thank you.
Liivi is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and is training to become a doula. She inspires women to find peace and personal power by taking control of health and fertility naturally. Liivi‘s passion is ancestral nutrition and primal lifestyle design. She and her partner Will live between Toronto, Canada and Queenstown, New Zealand.