In modern American society it seems that one of the highest goals in our existence is to stay as cool as possible and still be comfortable. Are there any benefits in sweating? If so, what are benefits of sweating for the modern person? Let’s take a look.
Are there any benefits? What are they?
Of course there are benefits. The first is the most obvious. It accomplishes the very thing that we expend our energy banks on every summer and any hot time: it is the cooling system of the body.
The second is not quite as obvious. It disposes of waste from the body. We shall look at that in more detail in a minute.
The third function it accomplishes is that it cleanses. We shall look at what it cleanses in a few minutes.
As we utilize the muscles of our body for movement or for work we “burn” calories. When burning calories not all the energy is totally used up in the work. Residual energy is given off as heat. In your body the ideal heat level is around 98.6 degrees F. If your body temperature gets much above this level the brain will alert the sweat glands to begin to excrete water out to the skin. The water that the sweat gland gets to excrete comes from the kidney. We shall see a benefit of this in a moment.
As the sweat gland excretes the water on to the surface of the skin, the excess heat in the body will cause the water to heat up and begin to evaporate. Water can hold and retain more heat per volume than 99% of all other substances. The water absorbs the heat and as it evaporates(turns into the gaseous state of water) it, because it is lighter than the surrounding atmosphere, begins to rise away from the body it is on takes with it part of the excess heat. That is why if one is sweaty and comes into an air-conditioned room, it seems really cool. It is cool because the air-conditioned room is very low in humidity and the evaporation is greatly sped up, making you feel very cool.
If we are constantly in “air-conditioned” situations our bodies never reach a temperature that would signal the brain to turn on the cooling system. Therefore, we do not sweat. No excess heat, no signal to brain, no switching on of the sweating process.
Does the system work? Just because modern man has built environs by which we do not ever get hot does not mean that our created cooling system does not work.
Let me give a good example. For thirty years I worked as a home builder. I live in the southern United States, so there are times in the year that it gets warm. I had many people who would work for me and with me, who when it got hot would almost strip down to their underwear. Of course, I would not allow that for safety reasons. But, they would get down to maybe a tank top and shorts. All the times that they were wearing as little as possible, I was wearing pants, a long sleeved flannel shirt over a t-shirt and wearing a wide brimmed hat. They thought I was crazy. But they did not understand.
Remember, I mentioned above about coming into an air-conditioned room when you are sweaty and how cool it was? Because I understand a little about what evaporation does, prepared myself to stay cool. In the south we usually very high humidity. This makes it hard for the atmosphere to allow water to vaporize very quickly. What I was doing with two layers of upper clothing was allowing time for the atmosphere to absorb the sweat that my body was putting out to cool itself. For my workers, their sweat ran off their body(yes it carried some heat with it, but water does not have the same volume as water vapor), but did not carry as much heat as the water vapor would carry. Once my shirts were saturated with sweat which could not run off my body, I had a continual system of slow evaporation and absorbtion into the atmosphere. I could work in 100 degree weather and never over heat. Another reason for the long sleeves and wide brim hat was the deflection of heat coming from the sun. Less heat coming in, less pressure on the cooling system.
Do you know what the biggest disposer of harmful waste from the body is? You might say, “Defecation”. You would be wrong. Then again, you might say, “Urination.” You would be a little closer to right. The correct answer to “What is the biggest disposer of waste from the body?” is “sweat”. Sweat carries more harmful waste out of the body than either of the other two. The sweat glands are linked with the kidneys and the kidneys are the collectors and disposers of the waste and harmful substances which the body does not need. Of course, some goes out through the urine, but the greatest part is channeled to the sweat glands.
We usually do not think of sweat as a cleansing agent. We come into the presence of a sweaty person and our nose senses “stink”. That does not sound like cleaning. Stop and think for a minute. In this world the skin of our body is constantly stopping unnecessary bacteria from entering our body. I say, “unnecessary”, because our body actually houses more bacteria than body cells, all of which are necessary to carry on our living. But there are a few that are very dangerous and must be kept out of our system. The skin does an excellent job of doing this. However, there are times that the build up of these harmful bacteria can become a problem on the skin’s surface and the skin needs a little help. When one sweats a lot then the liquid of the sweat running on the skin acts as a flushing agent to wash away the unwanted bacteria.
No sweat. No washing.
So, when we consider what are benefits of sweating, keep in mind the following.
Air conditioning is not bad. But neither is sweating bad. If you work at a job that causes you to sweat a lot(because of physical work), that’s good. Be wise. Drink plenty of water. Dress appropriately. And take breaks in timely manner.
If you do work at a job in which you sweat a lot, you may not need to consider the next suggestions.
If you do not have opportunity to sweat very much you might consider joining a club where you have access to a steam bath or a sauna. Either one of these will cause you to sweat profusely and help cleanse your body of harmful toxins and minerals not conducive to good health. Always take in plenty of water. Depending on your condition you may need to consult your physician as to how to approach sweating practices. If you are healthy, then keep on being healthy by having a good sweat now and then.
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