If you’ve ever taken a Bikram class, you know there’s really no way to avoid sweat. By the end of class, you’ll usually look like you just got out of a pool and need a change of clothes. After practicing and teaching Bikram yoga for over a decade, some of the common phrases I hear after class are, “I’ve never sweat so much in my life,” and, “I feel like I just took a shower from the inside out.” There’s a ton of information out there about sweat. This piece looks to examine the most common sweat statements and find out if they’re fact or fiction.
Yes, this is a fact. Your sweat is the way your body and skin protect you from overheating. Your body is able to maintain the proper temperature as you
sweat. The drops of perspiration are the body’s built-in mechanism for keeping cool. The droplets consist primarily of water, but also contain concentrations of sodium, chloride, and potassium. As sweat evaporates off your skin, it takes a lot of heat with it and leaves behind cooler liquid sweat. I know it takes a lot of discipline not to wipe it away, but the benefits outweigh the short-term discomfort.
Your pores open up when you sweat and that releases the buildup inside them. According to Dr. Adelbola Dele-Michael, a dermatologist at Radiant Skin Dermatology and Laser in New York City, “sweat purges the body of toxins that can clog pores and plague the skin with pimples and blemishes.” That’s another great reason to come to class and get your glow on.
One of the most efficient ways to detox your body is to sweat. The body releases toxins by using sweat as a conduit. Perspiring can actually help fight tuberculosis germs and other dangerous pathogens. According to Dr. Diane Fiori, a dermatologist at Rosacea Treatment Clinic in Melbourne, Australia, “sweat contains microbial peptides effective against viruses, bacteria and fungi. These peptides are positively charged and attract negatively charged bacteria. They enter the membranes of the bacteria and break them down.”
Dr. Carolyn Dean of the Nutritional Magnesium Association conducted research that showed fit individuals, especially those who train for endurance
sports, sweat sooner and more profusely than those who rarely get physical. Your body gets better to reacting to the increase in temperature and begins cooling down sooner and more efficiently. Your sweat works for you and allows you to maintain a greater workload for a greater period of time. People who have a lower level of fitness may stay drier during workouts than people with a higher level of fitness because they haven’t trained their bodies to recognize a high energy output and initiate the proper cooling response.
FACT and FICTION
This statement is a little tricky. Yes, sweating has numerous benefits; however, if you are not properly hydrated, too much sweat can lead to
dehydration. Dehydration results from a loss of water and important electrolytes from the body (potassium, sodium, chloride, and many other trace minerals). Water is the most important nutrient for our body. According to Dr. Chris Meletis, water makes up 70% of our muscles and 75% of our brains. It’s not surprising that as minerals and water deplete, muscles ache and cramp, and fatigue and thinking can be affected.
How to prevent dehydration
1. Get enough water.
2. Consume your minerals: sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium.
Minerals can be replaced by eating a proper diet; however, taking supplements regularly can ensure your body is receiving what it needs. There are a ton of companies out there that make great electrolyte supplements. You can buy these at the any health food store or even the supermarket. Two of my favorites are MegaHydrate by Dr. Patrick Flanagan (can be found on Amazon) and Electrolyte Balance by Pristine Hydro. If you are taking a Bikram Yoga or Hot Pilates class, I strongly recommend supporting your practice with an additional electrolyte supplement. We are gifting ourselves every time we sweat, so it’s important to give back to our bodies and thrive from a place of balance.