The health benefits of (sauna) sweating are widely revered. …but, why is this so? What happens inside the body from a good sweat?
Sweating is helpful to your health.
Sweat is supportive of clinical health and is therapeutic. Healthy sweat sessions can contribute to numerous health benefits.
- support immune health
- boost detoxification and gut health
- reduce stress
- amplify cardiovascular benefits
- contribute to weight loss
- …and more
Even better, some of the same things that make us sweat (like exercise or sauna bathing) have other inherent health benefits.
Both physical activity and using a sauna can rev up blood flow. This circulation boost can support heart health and trigger other mechanisms in the body that help to lower inflammation.
Not to mention that these activities have positive effects on mental and emotional factors. The health benefits of thermoregulatory sweating extend beyond body temperature regulation. (Although, temperature regulation is critical for the health of our organs!)
Sweating plays a role in various internal mechanisms within the body. Breaking out a good sweat may be supportive of metabolic health and related conditions, the body’s immune response, and mental/emotional well-being. (Just to name a few areas).
Let’s break this down a little further.
Although still ongoing, scientific research is moving towards providing valid support for sweating as an effective method to boost the body’s detoxification processes.
Paired with other appropriate measures related to effective digestion, detoxification, and immune health within the body, sweating through healthy activities may add another line of defense (so to speak).
Support for natural detoxification matters because, in many parts of the globe, humans are now being exposed to more environmental factors than their bodies can effectively handle. These adverse environmental exposures from both natural and man-made substrates can essentially hijack bodily systems and contribute to the onset of a range of medical conditions and diseases.
The idea that sweating will “detox” your body after, for example, a night of drinking does not have significant scientific support.
However, studies on sweating as a way to support the body process heavy metals and eliminate chemicals have shown some positive effects. A 2018 systematic review on clinical benefits from sauna bathing mentioned that excretion of toxicants through heavy sweating could lead to enhanced metabolic pathways and processes that toxics compounds may inhibit.
It is important to note that digestive organs play a primary role in detoxification. The research and medical communities have provided mixed support for the scientific studies on sweat and detoxification benefits. However, it is plausible that sweating could complement the work of the digestive system.
Researchers have also identified compounds in sweat capable of deflecting pathogens that cause infections to humans. The scientific examination of relationships between sweating in saunas or steam rooms and viruses like coronaviruses has also begun as a result of the recent pandemic.
Within the web of interconnected factors, healthy activities that lead to sweating may help the body as it works to balance and defend itself.
How can I get in a good sweat?
Moderate-to-higher intensity physical fitness and saunas are two of the best ways to sweat. Best of all, the gym isn’t the only place for physical activity!
Thermal stress, a physiological effect of spending time in saunas, has been studied for its impact on the body for quite some time. To date, benefits to cardiovascular health have emerged as the most compelling health outcomes.
Sauna-induced sweating, however, could serve as a means for people of all levels of physical fitness ability to sweat healthily. As UW Health explains, “sauna is a form of restful externally induced sweating.” It may be a way to sweat more deeply in a safe manner.
Furthermore, researchers from some of the more prominent studies on sauna bathing describe heat-induced sweating as having a “natural diuretic effect” which contributed to the decreased workload on the heart.
Is there anything else I should know about sweating?
Consideration for appropriate hydration and replenishment of electrolytes is important both before and after engaging in activities that generate sweat.
When breaking a sweat, a few signs, and symptoms to keep an eye on include:
- Profusely sweating as a result of drinking alcohol
For activities like an exercise regime or sauna bathing, people with diabetes and pregnant women may need to take extra precautions.