I feel great when I work my body hard. It just feels good to build muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance through resistance and cardio training. My yoga practice complements my weight training as resistance training and I feel stronger each day I practice. I personally don’t think that sweating feels good, but that seems to be a trend. Many people seem to want to sweat in the gym and in yoga class. I keep hearing people in the gym and yoga studio express how good they think sweating is for them, that sweating will get rid of toxins. I understand that some people may have a personal preference for feeling good to sweat, but I’m not sure why people want to believe the myth that sweating is good as “detox”.
Truth is that sweat is 99% water. There is a trace of salt, urea, proteins, and carbohydrates in sweat. But mostly sweat is water. The trace salt, urea, proteins, and carbohydrates are organic products that occur naturally in the body. They are not toxic, they are not environmental toxins. One cannot sweat out too much alcohol, a rich dessert, or a carbohydrate-heavy meal ingested the evening before.
Sweat does not contain pesticides, environmental pollutions, or food preservatives. Toxins that we ingest or come in contact with through the environment including mercury, alcohol and fatty foods are metabolized and digested in the liver, intestines and kidneys, and excreted as feces and urine.
Sweat glands are located in the skin and serve to regulate temperature. They do not function in metabolism, digestion, or filtering byproducts of metabolism. Sweating is an important physiological function. Is sweating good? Of course, to the extent that it helps to cool the body and prevent heat exhaustion. Sweat is overwhelmingly water. The body is designed to produce sweat. The water in that sweat evaporates from the skin as a cooling mechanism to maintain a consistent body temperature (98.6 degrees F). Sweating more means one of two things: either the environment is hot or the body’s core temperature is rising probably as a function of muscle activity. Sweating more does not expel preservatives, chemicals, or alcohol. Sweating expels water. That water will need to be replaced by drinking fluids to help the kidneys function in their role of eliminating toxins from the blood.
Can someone sweat too much? Absolutely. Heavy sweating with a rapid pulse can be a sign of heat exhaustion, or overheating. Heat exhaustion can result from being exposed to high environmental temperatures and strenuous activity. When people feel dizzy, fatigued, or faint (particularly when the pulse is faint and rapid) during a workout in a heated room they could be experiencing heat exhaustion. Nausea, headache and muscle cramps are additional signs that indicate the person may be overheating and needs to stop the activity, find a cooler room and drink water. Medical attention is necessary if the symptoms don’t subside.
Excessive sweating during a workout is a personal preference. It doesn’t mean that toxins are shed. The best way to “detox” is to avoid environmental impurities, food preservatives, and household chemicals. Sweating in the gym or studio will help cool you down but won’t be effective in eliminating toxins.