The Danish author Isak Dinesen once said, "The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears or the sea." I am taking some time today to reflect on the curative power of the first—sweat. In summertime, just stepping outside the front door can bring on a damp sheen. Throw in some time in the garden or other outdoor exercise, and the sweat really flows.
Sweating is an important part of a healthy body’s daily life. Studies have shown that sweat-inducing exercise carries with it innumerable benefits, including increased pain tolerance, mood control and infection resistance.
Some debate the value of sweat-inducing wellness techniques like saunas, rightfully suspicious of medically ambiguous terms like “detox.” But there is no denying that sweating has an important role to play in a healthy lifestyle.
One of the positive ways I think about sweating has to do with the science behind sweat’s power to balance our emotions. No one can deny the emotional re-set that happens after a big sweat—not dissimilar, to go back to Dinesen’s quote, to the feeling we get after a satisfying cry. Whether it’s the sweating mechanism itself that’s responsible for this benefit or the heavier, fuller breathing that accompanies sweating during exercise, letting our sweat flow is akin to letting go of pent-up emotions—and that always feels good.
Sweat’s health benefits are only as good as your overall health, however—and overall health means proper hydration. Eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily is a good baseline to remember, with more sips for extra-sweaty days.
Thinking positively about sweating might help you have a happier summer. Dare I say that with the right attitude, no one would accuse you of “sweating the small stuff?”
Summer means sweat, whether from exercise or just being outside in the hazy-hot-humidity. Why not see the positive side of a good sweat?