You perspire. I perspire. We all perspire! Perspiration performs a magnificent function in your body and, despite the popularity of anti-perspirants, there are lots of reasons to be pro-sweat!
What is sweat?
Sweat is mostly composed of water, electrolytes and urea, but may also contain sugar, ammonia, wastes and toxins. In short, sweat is your own personal coolant and cleanser. It’s actually fragrance-free, but when it comingles with bacteria on the skin, can produce an odor.
When your internal body heat raises above normal (98.6 degrees), an all-natural-totally-organic-free-of-charge air conditioning system kicks in. Your brain contacts tiny blood vessels that are close to the skin, and signals them to dilate. Then, as blood carries excess heat to these vessels they receive that heat, which then radiates through your skin.
When this doesn’t do the trick, your brain will activate sweating, causing water (sweat) to be released through pores. As air touches or blows over your skin, the water evaporates, and that’s what cools you down.
The skin is such a powerful eliminative organ that many health professionals have nicknamed it the “third kidney.”
Your body uses sweat to transport waste and toxins from the inside to the outside through pores in the skin. It’s a light internal cleanse. The process also unclogs pores and, as long as you provide the external cleanse soon after, helps to naturally brighten your complexion without a single dab of a cosmetic or cream.
Circulation and… cardio?
Sweat is a “homeostatic” mechanism. Homeostasis is a process that keeps your body’s internal environment, in this case temperature, stable. Soaking in a steam bath or a hot sauna may require no aerobic exertion, but as your body works for that perfect balance, your heart rate increases, also increasing circulation and metabolism. Add a brisk walk or some dance-aerobics, and you’ve got a heart-healthy plan for life.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that when you get sick your body often heats up? Instead of influenza fever, how about sauna? Researchers believe that raised body temperature 1) makes you un-inhabitable by certain bacteria, and 2) helps you to detoxify, ie sweat it out, as a part of the immune response. Whether you heat up through exercise or sauna, your body responds as if it were fighting an infection; thus, increasing production and circulation of white (disease-fighting) blood cells.
Sweating alone may not relieve your stress, but your muscles are more likely to release tension when warmed. Go to the sauna, a steam room or hot bath. Breathe deeply and slowly. Let your muscles relax. You might notice that certain thoughts cause you to tighten up. Say a prayer. Let them go. Watch the tension drip off of you with every bead of healthy perspiration.