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Friday, July 17, 2015

Sweat Smartly with these Strategies

The sweatier, the better
Confession: I secretly love those hovering-on-triple-digit, sweat-inducing heat waves that sometimes engulf Los Angeles during summer.

Sweat has a bad reputation. Talk about sweat at your next dinner party and someone will probably quickly change the topic.

You’ve heard someone say, “Don’t sweat it,” you remember like yesterday breaking into a miserable sweat before that make-or-break high school chemistry final, and excessive perspiration probably became an undesirable part of a first date or job interview.

Sweat serves a practical purpose. When something like exercise increases your body’s core temperature, fluid rises to your skin’s surface and then evaporates. If you didn’t sweat, even a comfortable-temperature workout room would quickly become unbearable.

Interestingly, fit people sweat
more. That’s because the fitter you are, the more efficiently your body becomes at cooling itself rather than storing extra heat. Your cardiovascular system, lungs, and other organs that contribute to sweating become better at doing their jobs.

Rigorous exercise like burst training becomes the perfect opportunity to become a better sweater. You raise body heat more quickly, your organs work more efficiently, and you become an all-day fat-burning machine.

Sweat plays other roles besides cooling down your body. When you don’t sweat, you don’t detoxify, because when your liver converts fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble substances, sweat excretes those toxins.

Want glowing skin? Sweat more. Sweating can even benefit your immune system. When you run a fever, put down the pain reliever and sweat it out. Sweating helps cool your internal organs and naturally lowers your body temperature.

5 Ways to Sweat Better

Nobody sweats much these days, even at the gym. Don’t get me started about the elliptical-machine riders, but I’ve noticed in our ultra-sanitized modern-day culture, even heavy lifters and burst trainers aren’t sweating as much as they should.

That’s too bad, considering all of sweat’s benefits.

Think about the last time you really sweated, and if you can’t remember, I want you to change that.

Gradually and common sense become key words here: Doing 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise in mid-afternoon July heat can quickly become dangerous (duh), since humidity prevents fluids on your skin from evaporating, which doesn’t allow your body to cool itself down. Plus, you’ll probably have a heat stroke or otherwise harm yourself.

So sweat more, but sweat smartly with these five strategies.

1.      Get optimal magnesium. One study found the more you sweat, the more magnesium you excrete. That’s not good, considering this underrated mineral plays a part in over 300 enzymatic reactions including ATP (energy) production. If you don’t take magnesium citrate after workouts or before bed (highly recommended), an Epsom salts bath provides another great way to get this crucial mineral.
2.     Hydrate but don’t over-hydrate. Especially in humid weather, drink eight ounces of water every half hour. Drink but don’t over drink. A rare but dangerous, potentially lethal condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia can result when you over-consume water after a vigorous workout.
3.     Replenish electrolytes. Because you sweat out sodium and potassium, a strenuous workout can easily deplete these minerals. Electrolyte imbalance can result from heavy sweating. A professional-quality no-sugar-added electrolyte formula or coconut water help replenish those valuable electrolytes.
4.     Get good sleep. Among its many other drawbacks, one study found too little sleep means you sweat less during a workout. That means you don’t cool off as easily and you don’t sweat out those toxins. Aim for eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night.
5.     Use a far-infrared sauna. Unlike traditional saunas, these penetrate deep inside your skin to release the toxins stored in your fat tissue. One study showed far-infrared saunas could help relieve chronic pain, heal chronic fatigue syndrome, and even promote weight loss.

Take a look during your next gym or park visit: Do you notice fewer people sweating these days? Where do you get your sweat on? Share your thoughts below or my Facebook page.

Beever R. Far-infrared saunas for treatment of cardiovascular risk factors. Can Fam Physician. 2009 July; 55(7): 691–696.
Sawka MN, et al. Effects of sleep deprivation on thermoregulation during exercise. Am J Physiol. 1984 Jan;246(1 Pt 2):R72-7.
Verde T, et al. Sweat composition in exercise and in heat. J Appl Physiol. 1982 Dec;53(6):1540-5.


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