Why Sweating Is Good For More Than Just Your Skin

Sweating. If that isn't the word of the moment as we try to make our way through this grueling, cruel summer, then what is? July 2023 was set to be the hottest month on record, per the World Meteorological Organization. It seems that even if we're not working out or holed up in a sauna for 20 minutes, sweating is just something we should become accustomed to. This is especially so because climate change shows no signs of backing down — nor do some of the humans contributing to it.


Although sweating, particularly when you're out and about, can be a vicious state of affairs, it's actually quite good for you. While we already know sweating has skincare benefits — just think about how your skin glows after a proper workout session — this is certainly not its only benefit. "Sweating helps release heat, which helps maintain optimal body temperature," says Henry Ford Health exercise physiologist Pamela Webert. "If we didn't sweat, our bodies would literally cook from the inside out." In other words, sweating keeps us alive and kicking — but amazing skin and being alive are just the beginning.

Sweating is essential to our physical and mental health in ways you may not have realized. So, whether you're sweating from a workout or because it's a whopping 100 degrees where you live, embrace the sweat dripping from your pores.


Sweating helps detox the body

Sweating is an amazing way to clear the body of toxins that we can do without. For example, a 2015 study published to Glycobiology found that sweat can aid in removing bacteria from the body. Another 2015 study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found that sweat removes traces of BPAs. BPAs (Bisphenol-A) are chemicals used in plastics and other everyday products. Although the exact negative effect of BPAs on the body has yet to be discovered, it's still best to limit our bodies' exposure to these chemicals as best we can.


Additionally, sweat has also been found to flush out heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health. Not only are these elements suspected carcinogens and toxic to the environment, but a 2020 study published in Biomolecules found that lung cancer patients with low blood cadmium levels have an increased chance of survival than those with higher levels. Cadmium levels are based on the concentrations of mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic in the blood, and the higher the level, the more concentrated these elements are — which is something we don't want. 

It increases immunity

It turns out that sweating is fantastic for the immune system. According to a 2013 study published in Science Daily, sweat contains an antibiotic peptide — dermcidin — which fights off microbial pathogens, even the most dangerous ones out there. Dermcidin, as the study found, has shown to kill E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus among other bacterial viruses, as well as species of yeast.


If that weren't enough, the same study found that the natural antibiotic found in sweat is "highly efficient" in fighting such dangerous bugs like tuberculosis (TB) germs. Granted, TB is considered, for the most part, under control in the U.S. thanks to vaccinations, according to the American Lung Association,  but it hasn't been totally eradicated. However, just the fact that sweat has such properties that it can fight TB, which plagued society for centuries, really says a lot about the power of sweating and its endless health benefits. 

Sweating boosts heart health

Anything that boosts heart health is extremely important. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both women and men in the U.S, according to the Center for Disease Control, with someone dying from a cardiovascular disease every 33 seconds. The World Health Organization also reports that heart-related diseases are the number one killer across the globe. So anything that helps this situation is something to take note of and, ideally, include in our health routines. 


A 2015 study on a sampling of middle-aged men published in Jama Internal Medicine found that sweating is so beneficial for heart health that it lowers blood pressure, fatal coronary and cardiovascular disease, as well as decreases the chance that someone might die suddenly from other heart-related diseases. Although the study looked at people who regularly pop into a sauna to get their sweat on, the fact remains that it's all about the sweating. So however you choose to embark on your journey of regular sweating, your heart will be healthier for it.

It can help with weight loss

While working out regularly can help someone drop pounds, the sweat that comes along with it can also usher weight loss along. When we sweat, it's because our body is trying to cool us down, and in doing so is burning some (albeit, not a lot of!) calories. But what's important to realize here is that the sweat you lose during a workout is mostly water weight and that will come back when you properly hydrate again, per Healthline


So when it comes to weight loss, make sure that you understand that simply sweating isn't going to do it. Dropping pounds involves a combination of regular exercise and eating healthy, and being physically active is a good thing. Sweating due to running, walking, performing HIIT, cycling, or other strenuous exercises shows that you're working hard enough to burn calories. And burning more calories than you consume is what leads to weight loss.

It can boost your mood

It's not just exercise that impacts mental health by serving up those happy hormones, but the sweat does it in its own way too. "Hot blood from the interior can swoosh past the veins near the skin, get cooled down by sweating, and then circle back to cool the interior," science journalist Sarah Everts tells Real Simple. "This workout for your heart releases happy hormones, like endorphins, that give you a biochemical rush of joy and catharsis." Also known as a case of the smiles. 


A 2015 study published in the Association for Psychological Science found that sweat that's produced when someone is happy can unconsciously transfer that happiness to other people. In other words, our sweat "induces a contagion of the emotional state ... happiness sweat is somewhat like smiling — it is infectious," psychological scientist and senior research of the study Gün Semin tells the Association for Psychological Science. Not only is sweating lifting your mood, but it's making others around you feel good too.  

It aids in muscle recovery

Whether you've strained your muscles at the gym or by lifting heavy boxes last weekend while helping a friend move into a new place, sweating is here to save the day. For starters, those aforementioned endorphins that are released during sweating help with pain, therefore aiding sore muscles — they are natural pain relievers after all, per Healthline. Secondly, how sweat impacts blood flow also helps in the recovery of those sore and tired muscles. 


"When you're working hard enough to sweat, your increased blood flow will carry more metabolites — or by-products from exercise-induced muscle damage — away from your muscles, which can help you feel less sore following your workout," head of biology and chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Experimental Study Group Patricia Christie, Ph.D. tells Women's Health. Some of those by-products are lactic acids that are important for the body to ditch in order to speed up the process of muscle recovery, according to 2019 research published in Temperature.

Sweating lowers your risk for kidney stones

Although kidney stones are rare, with only one in 10 people getting them and being mostly common in white men in their 30s and 40s, according to Cleveland Clinic, they're still something to be wary of. Mostly because they're something you absolutely, positively don't want to deal with, if you can avoid it. That's where sweating comes into play. A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that sweat removes salt and keeps calcium in the bones where it should be. When this happens, these two elements can't make their way to the kidneys, therefore preventing, or at least limiting the chances of kidney stones.


Honestly, there are only two downsides to sweating: that awful sticky feeling and your makeup melting off your face. But those two things are so minor, especially when compared to all the benefits of sweating. So, it's time to embrace the sweat! See it for what it really is: an essential part of the human body functioning properly, no matter how inconvenient it might be in certain scenarios.