While sweating may seem like an undesirable bodily function, sweating can actually provide you with several benefits -- even if you're not exercising. However, when losing large amounts of sweat during physical activity, be sure to hydrate your body by drinking water before, during, and after exercise to prevent dangerous dehydration.
Lower Blood Pressure
While losing too much sodium by sweating can be problematic if you're eating a low-sodium diet, excreting some sodium through sweat can actually help offset a higher sodium diet. Because high-sodium diet can cause high blood pressure and increase your risk for heart disease, sweating can help lower high blood pressure. The School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison reports that sauna-induced sweating is a healthy way to reduce high blood pressure, as long as you abide by recommendations of 15 to 30 minutes of sauna use three or four days per week. Exercise-induced sweating also helps keep blood pressure in check.
Environmental toxins, such as lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium, can build up in the body and cause health and developmental problems, especially in children. A review published in 2010 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that mercury -- present in fish, seafood and the environment -- may promote neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease. Such toxins can be found in small concentrations in sweat, which means the toxins are excreted from your body in sweat. A review published in 2012 in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health found that high mercury levels in the body normalized with regular sauna use and sweating. Authors of this review suggest that sweating should be considered as a method to detoxify the body and excrete built-up toxins.
Increased Caloric Expenditure
If you're sweating, it means your body is likely burning more calories than you would burn if you weren't sweating -- which is beneficial when you're trying to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight. Exercise, a common cause of sweating, helps boost your body's energy expenditure. Sweating due to being in hot temperatures, such as sitting in a sauna, means your body expends more calories pumping blood to your skin, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). ACE reports that exercising in warmer temperatures helps you burn more calories than working out in cooler temps.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.