One afternoon, I told my husband that the workout I’d just done hadn’t been enough to make me sweat, so therefore, IMO, it was a waste of time. Consider this a retraction to that statement, because what I meant to say was, on that day specifically, I really needed to work up a sweat, if not for any reason other than to benefit my mental health — and, unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Of course, a good workout is defined by so much more than whether or not it makes you slick with sweat. But if sweating makes you feel better during those times when life gets a little too overwhelming, or when your roommate eats the last piece of your mom's homemade double-chocolate cake, you might be looking for a routine that leaves you drenched. To some, the idea of damp hair clinging to the nape of your neck might sound absolutely revolting, but to others, it all feels like a success.
For the record, I wasn’t always into sweating my butt off during my workouts. Once upon a time, I was definitely the kid who went to great lengths to ensure I wouldn’t have to batter up in gym class; my career as a soccer player promptly ended in sixth grade; and I was always, without fail, called off the volleyball court long before I was required to actually jump around or do anything. And yet, somehow, I still had major perspiration problems from middle school through freshman year of high school when, ironically, I had to wear sweat guards under my armpits (thanks a lot, puberty).
These days, though, I consider a glistening forehead after treadmill sprints a trophy, and when I’m in a bad mood, I have no doubt the combination of adrenaline and a sweaty tank top can always lift my spirits.
Sweating is natural, it’s healthy, and it’s also beneficial for your state of mind. Physiologically, sweat is made up of electrolytes, sugar, and salt, Charlee Atkins, CSCS and founder of Le Sweat, tells Elite Daily, and it's produced by the body to keep its core temperature regulated at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, sweating is how the body simmers itself down when it gets overheated.
And, speaking of overheating, this is where those yummy mental health benefits of sweating come into play. See, when you’re stressed TF out over, say, a heavy workload or an argument with your SO, your emotional state is going to reflect in your physical well-being. This can lead to things like a temporary bump in your blood pressure and/or a racing heartbeat, both of which will ultimately cause your body's internal temperature to rise. On top of that, let’s be real: When your mental stress starts to affect your physical body, it’s an ugly cycle that’s likely going to put you in an even worse mood.
Working up a sweat can reduce those stress levels, ease anxiety, lower blood pressure, and slow down your respiratory system, Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, tells Elite Daily. So, not only will you feel a physical sense of relief after you’ve worked up a sweat, but your mind will, too.
Sweating can also be extremely cathartic, says Reebok trainer Conor Murphy. Because a lot of people associate sweat with a difficult workout, Murphy tells Elite Daily over email, when a routine leaves you doused in a puddle of your own perspiration, it can almost feel like your body is patting you on the back for a job well done. I know myself, and on my worst days, sometimes I need that little boost of encouragement, even if it's coming from my own body, to let me know everything is going to be OK. It's like, if I can get through three miles of sprint intervals, I can get through anything.
Of course, how much you sweat doesn't always necessarily reflect how much work you've put into a routine. Every body is different, Murphy says, and people sweat more or less, for a variety of reasons. Still, if your goal is to sweat out the stress, Murphy suggests training in the sun whenever possible, experimenting with full-body routines, and keeping in mind that the longer you work out, the more likely it is you'll see perspiration.
If you don't have too much energy but would still like to feel that burn, certified trainer and fitness personality, Katie Austin, suggests taking a hot yoga class to ease tension. "You can do different food cleanses, face masks, etc., but there's no other feeling of refresh than one after a good sweat," Austin tells Elite Daily. "You can physically feel your body reviving."
So the next time you find yourself in a funk, grab a leash and walk your dog, follow along with a HIIT workout on YouTube, or sign up for a Zumba class at your local gym. Get your body moving and work up a sweat, because the harder you work out, the more stress you'll work off.