Sweat & Tears


Sweat and TearsSweat.  Not something one immediately thinks of as having benefits! Quite the opposite… Just the word tends to conjure images of unsightly stains and unholy smells. Nevertheless, science suggests there are lots of little-known benefits to sweating… Here are five of them, and three benefits of tears as well. It’s just a shame there aren’t any benefits to blood-letting, otherwise we’d have the perfect title!

Relieves Pain
Believe it or not, the process of sweating is linked to your brain’s production of endorphins. These endorphins act as natural painkillers! This explains why many people literally feel better after they do exercise that helps them break a sweat.

Improves Your Skin
You can walk into almost any high-street chemist and pick up all manner of pore-clearing lotions and potions… But sweating does the job for you more naturally! Your pores open up when you sweat, releasing the little bits of dirt trapped in them. Rather than scrubbing away, wash your face with a mild, non-acidic soap a few times a day – and, when you’ve worked up a sweat – let it run its course rather than wiping it away.

Detoxes You
For the most part, only health experts and word-game enthusiasts have heard of phthalates. They’re a group of chemicals found in numerous plastics, cosmetics and paints. Unfortunately, studies link these chemicals to asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, low IQ, behavioral problems, autism, male-fertility issues and more.

Interestingly, Canadian researchers conducted a small experiment that looked for phthalates in blood, urine and sweat. The phthalates concentration was found to be around twice as high in the sweat as in the urine. Similar studies show sweat also removes other harmful chemicals from the body, including bisphenol A and heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, as well as somewhat less serious elements such as alcohol, cholesterol, and salt.

Improves Mood
Most people report that exercise improves their mood. While science works to understand exactly why that is, one theory from California-based sports-medicine physician James Ting, MD, says that research suggests “…that temperature-sensitive neural circuits to specific regions in the brain exist and may play a significant role in controlling mood.” In other words, being hot enough to sweat– for whatever reason – can positively affect mood!

Fights Germs
This is not to say that if you have a cold you’ll be able to sweat it out… While many people swear that’s true, there’s only anecdotal evidence to support it. Sweat, however, does appear to act as a catalyst in a sort of natural sanitizer! An anti-microbial peptide called dermcidin – secreted by our sweat glands as part of our immune system – funnels bacteria, viruses, fungi and germs through its structure, and quickly destroys them.

Well, if it’s surprising to learn that sweating has health benefits, it’s positively astonishing to hear that crying does… And we don’t just mean by keeping things out of your eye. In fact, you have three different types of tears: basal, reflex and psychic – yes, really! The tears that lubricate your eyes are called basal; those that get rid of alien elements – smoke, vapours and tiny particles – are named reflex tears, for obvious reasons!

Finally, there are the so-called psychic tears! These are the tears that you produce through genuine emotion. When we say crying has health benefits, it is these tears to which we refer in terms of the following health benefits:

Stress Relief
Cited by some as the main reason that we cry at all, stress-generated tears help get rid of chemicals that raise the stress hormone, cortisol… Of course, the situation that’s stressing you out may well improve through a teary-eyed expression of emotion as well! In any case, studies show that – those with anxiety/mood disorders aside – the overwhelming majority of people feel better after crying.

Kills Bacteria
Your tears also contain a bacteria-killing fluid called lysozyme. Astoundingly, lysozyme kills between 90 to 95 percent of all bacteria in under ten minutes.

Improves Vision
How often do you find your vision getting a little blurry? Many of us that sit at computers all day may be allowing our eyeballs and eyelids to dehydrate. If you ever notice it happening, then you can lubricate various eye and mucous membranes by blinking! If that doesn’t do the trick, then close your eyes, think of something sad and have a little weep!

Finally, it should go without saying that excessive sweating – and excessive crying for that matter – are not so good for you! All the information given here presumes you’re a sensible sort of person who understands that moderate exercise, the occasional sauna and sporadic viewings of Steel Magnolias might do you good… Sobbing endlessly and dripping with sweat in the broiling sun are not.

Back in Shape cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of any action or inaction based on its Newsletter or Info Sheets. If you have any doubts or concerns over medical and health issues, our best advice is always to pop in to see us, visit your GP or call NHS Direct on 111 to discuss your health.