The human body is pretty amazing; it even comes with a built-in air conditioning system that we refer to as sweat. Sometimes, we want to get our sweat on because it’s good for the body and can assist with many health benefits, some of which we’ll talk about here. Other times, sweat strikes at an inopportune time, like a first date or a job interview. Yikes! Either way, the benefits sweat can provide are naturally occurring and second to none.
Next time you’re at the gym sneak a peek at your fellow exercisers. Some of them may be drenched and sweating through their clothes while others may not appear to be perspiring at all. For the most part, the amount of sweat you produce is normal for your body. This indicates that the amount of perspiration induced by an infrared session can vary because we’re all a little different on the sweat-o-meter.
What is Sweat?
Sweat is moisture or liquid that is released through the sweat glands onto the skin. The human body contains two types of sweat glands, located in the dermis that produce sweats containing main ingredients such as sodium, chloride and potassium. The two types are:
- Eccrine, the sweat glands that cover the majority of the body and produce a thinner, watery, sweat.
- Apocrine, these sweat glands are located near parts of the body that contain masses of hair follicles like the underarms and scalp and the sweat produced is thicker in consistency. Apocrine sweat has additional ingredients in its recipe like fatty acids and protein byproducts.
We sweat for a variety of reasons such as, a hot day, warm temperatures, a physically exerting workout, sickness, fever and sometimes fear or nervousness. Humans have between 2 and 5 million sweat glands that produce this water-based secretion onto the skin through a duct system. The process of sweating can remove waste from the body, and contrary to popular belief, it isn’t actually stinky. The odor you might be smelling after a long work-day followed by hot yoga is the bacteria on the surface of your skin interacting with the sweat produced by the apocrine glands.
What in the world does all of this mean?! It means that the production of sweat is natural, important and healthy!
How Much Sweat is Normal?
This is complicated. Your fitness level may affect how much sweat you produce; this is why athletes often start to glisten right after beginning their workout. The Gatorade Sports Science Institute has found that in conditions of 85 degrees and 40% humidity, the average runner will lose 2 to 4 pounds of sweat an hour (Buzzfeed).
“You can produce up to 6 pints (3 liters) of sweat an hour,” said Tom Scheve from How Stuff Works, Health, “though you probably top out at 2 pints (1 liter) an hour unless you live in a hot environment.”
Hence why participating in warm, sweat inducing activities can assist the body with many health benefits, including toxin release.
Sweating too much (we’re talking a lot!) may mean that you are experiencing hyperhidrosis, which may be caused by nervous system disorders, low blood sugar or other health issues. The inability to sweat, anhidrosis, is defined as the absence of sweating by the International Hyperhidrosis Society. They say that certain medications, clogged ducts, skin injuries and dehydration can cause anhidrosis and it’s best to speak with your physician if you feel you may have it.
Scientists in Japan did a study in 2010 to find out if men or women produce more sweat. After the group of 37 subjects finished a 60-minute cycling session, it was concluded that women may need to work out harder to produce the same amount of sweat as men. Researchers also discovered that because women carry less body fluid than men, their bodies may retain more water to prevent dehydration.
What are the Benefits of Sweating?
Here are just a few, but we could go on and on!
Are you wondering how to detox your body? Well, speculate no more! A natural cleanse of the body happens while you’re sparkling with sweat and it's crucial to make sure you're staying hydrated. Working out or exposing the body to heat to produce perspiration does mean you’re losing water weight, but you’re also burning calories that won’t be replaced when you hit the drinking fountain.
German studies reported by The British Journal of Medicine state that researchers have found that sweat contains an ingredient, called Dermcidin that can kill bacteria and viruses found on the surface of the skin. That being said, it’s still important to wash up or dry off after a sweat-session, especially if your skin is sensitive.
Toxins, germs and pathogens can be unavoidable, but when Medical Daily spoke to a dermatologist named Diane De Fiori at the Rosacea Treatment Clinic in Melbourne, Australia she told them that “Sweat contains antimicrobial peptides effective against viruses, bacteria, and fungi. These peptides are positively charged and attract negatively charged bacterial, enter the membranes of bacteria, and break them down.”
The production of sweat has also been known to lower the risk of kidney stones, rejuvenate the skin, heal wounds and improve skin condition (just make sure to wash your face afterwards!)
So get out there and get sweaty my friends, your body will thank you!