Whether it’s literally marathon day, or you simply have a marathon day at work, you’re no stranger to sweat—and that’s a good thing. Below: the benefits of sweating, and how to manage it—whether on the trails or at the office.
Why Do We Sweat?
We sweat for really good reasons. Whether it’s hot outside, we’re getting a great workout, we’re feeling stressed or eating spicy food, our bodies sweat to help us manage the situation. The composition of our sweat and the areas of the body we release it from change accordingly.
The Benefits of Sweating
Before you totally knock it as an inconvenience or an embarrassment, consider the following benefits of sweating:
1. Sweat cools your body
By far the most obvious benefit, sweat is your body’s method of temperature control. When we get hot, sweat glands release water so that as it evaporates some of the heat goes with it. This type of sweat is primarily made up of water.
We also sweat when we get stressed. Our biological reaction to a stressful situation is to prepare for fight or flight, which in practice means the release of stress hormones, an increased heart rate and tense muscles. All of this leads to an increased body temperature and, ultimately, sweat. “Stress sweat” is released from different types of sweat glands found in your armpits and groin and is composed of more fats and proteins. When you look at it this way, sweat is essential for the survival of the human species.
2. Sweat helps detoxify
Perspiration also detoxifies your body, flushing it of things like alcohol, cholesterol, excess sodium, metals and other environmental toxins. When your liver and kidneys get overloaded, some toxins get stored in your fat. Sweat kicks in as a backup to help you release them through your skin.
Reducing the amount of salt and calcium in your kidneys and urine has the additional benefit of lowering your risk of kidney stones. Sweating requires that you hydrate more, which makes your body’s detoxification processes that much more efficient.
3. Sweat can help your skin, too
Sweating also has great benefits for the skin. It opens up your pores and pushes out the dirt that builds up inside them. Just make sure you clean off afterward so the sweat doesn’t linger on your skin. Once you’ve done all the work of pushing dirt out of your pores and expelling toxins stored deeper in your skin, the last thing you want is for all that gunk to get re-absorbed through open pores.
4. Sweat and increased blood circulation
Sweating usually goes hand in hand with increased blood circulation. If you’re exercising, that’s because you’re challenging yourself enough to get your heart pumping and blood moving, but you may also seek out a good sweat in a sauna or hot yoga class.
There are tons of benefits from increased circulation, from strengthening your cardiovascular system to reducing inflammation to promoting healthy muscle recovery.
5. Sweat = Endorphins
Sweating triggers hormonal changes in our body. It both decreases our stress hormones and boosts our endorphins (the happy hormones that you’re used to feeling after a good workout, sometimes referred to as runner’s high).
These changes don’t just make us feel good in the moment, but they have ongoing positive effects on anxiety, digestion, and sleep.
6. Breaking a sweat protects you from germs
Sweating can even protect you from illness, as sweat contains antimicrobial proteins that attract and break down unwanted bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Deodorant, Antiperspirant and Sweat
So if sweat is so good, why do we wear deodorant? The answer to this starts with an understanding of the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant.
The truth is, sweat doesn’t actually smell - it’s the bacteria. Your body is full of bacteria that live on the skin and thrive in warm, damp climates.
The basic scientific principle of deodorant is this: make your armpits inhospitable to bacteria, and you won’t smell. Deodorants contain ingredients that are salty or acidic, so if you’re using a an unnatural brand that means glycol, alcohol, and/or parabens. If you’re using an aluminum-free deodorant, like ours, that means good for you stuff like Aloe Leaf Juice.
Antiperspirant, on the other hand, doesn’t deal with bacteria – it uses aluminum compounds to plug up your pores so sweat can’t pass through and amplify B.O. Research has linked aluminum in antiperspirant to cancer and Alzheimer’s, which is scary if not entirely conclusive. The simple fact is this: sweat is good for you, and clogging up your sweat glands with known toxins prevents you from reaping the full health benefits of sweating.
How to Sweat Safely
So what’s the solution if you want to sweat safely, without odor and dampness?
We’re a little biased, sure, but our Aluminum-Free Deodorant is where it’s at. Made with clean ingredients – no aluminum, glycol, alcohol, or parabens in sight – our formula dries quickly and absorbs moisture without clogging your sweat glands. It also reduces friction from hair and inflammation, so your pits will be doubly protected.
Join the club!
Subscribe to The Oars + Alps newsletter for email updates and extra special content!