Picture this: You’re outside training for that 10K next month. Your sneakers forcefully slap the pavement with each determined footfall.
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Your arms pump in rapid rhythm, propelling you toward the finish line. Your deep, methodical breathing clears your mind of any strain. The sensation is invigorating. Therapeutic. Euphoric, even. Got the mental image yet?
Great. Now, here comes the sucker-punch: just when you’ve nearly convinced your body that physical exertion is not, in fact, an instrument of torture, it happens. That first little sweat bead trickles down your neck. You hastily brush it away without breaking stride, but the effort soon proves useless. Your pores leak open like runny egg yolks. Perspiration drips onto your forehead, stings your tear ducts, pools above your lips and chafes the tender skin of your armpits. Suddenly, running loses all appeal.
Sound familiar? Sweat often carries a negative connotation because it’s associated with physical discomfort, lack of personal hygiene and, of course, dreaded body odor. However, medical research has consistently indicated that those clammy, irritating drops of moisture are not just beneficial for your health…they’re essential.
So, what exactly is sweat anyway?
Produced in the eccrine and apocrine glands then secreted through numerous pores in the skin, sweat’s primary function is to cool the body down during bouts of vigorous movement or humidity exposure, thereby preventing the organs from overheating. This life-saving liquid consists of water and salt, which work together to flush toxins from your system while activating thermoregulation, the process of maintaining a safe internal body temperature. This occurs when sweat evaporates on the skin, releasing excess heat underneath its surface. So, pungent smells aside, the act of perspiring is a vital fixture throughout any workout.
What are some more reasons to embrace a sweat “sesh?”
In addition to keeping you cool, sweating offers several other advantages as well. Turns out, those pesky little droplets you’ve been trying to avoid promote healing and wellness in a variety of ways. Here are some examples:
1. Pain Prevention: Sweat helps stimulate exercise-induced endorphins, which can alleviate muscle aches, soreness and tension.
2. Complexion Clarity: Sweat purges the pores of underlying dirt, oil and bacteria, which can reduce the risk of back and facial acne.
3. Emotion Equilibrium: Sweat increases the feeling of physical warmth, which studies suggest might create a sense of emotional calm.
4. Immunity Improvement: Sweat provides the body with antimicrobial properties, which protect against infections and the common cold.
5. Skeletal Strength: Sweat that results from weight-bearing activities helps the bones retain calcium, which builds necessary mass.
Working up a sweat doesn’t make you repulsive (although showering afterward will keep your nostrils happy!). Instead, this naturally occurring response to physical exertion means your health and fitness levels are on the fast track for success. So, what are you waiting for? Lace up those sneakers then hit the pavement. That moisture seeping through your shirt is your body’s way of saying, “Thanks for putting me in motion…it’s what I’m designed to do!”