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Sweat It Out

Wait. You mean we don’t really sweat out toxins?…
 
By Karen Kwan
 
Nothing like a good sweat, right? But other than regulating your body’s temperature, there’s a lot of talk of what perspiring can do for you. When you go to hot yoga, do you have buckets of toxins pouring out of your pores? Will a session at places like Shape House in the US – where the Kardashians reportedly go – or the Dew Sweat House in Toronto have you sweating your way to a slimmer body, better mood and a good night’s sleep? We looked to the experts and research to determine if good things really do come to those who sweat.
 
Sweating will not help clear your acne
Although it might seem like sweating would help rid your skin of what ails it (including acne), in fact sweating can make your acne worse if you don’t wash it off. “For people prone to acne on the forehead and back, I recommend taking a shower after working out. And for sports where you use helmets or headgear, clean the equipment afterwards and wash your face or at the very least use a facial wipe,” says Dr. Julia Carroll, a dermatologist based in Toronto. She adds that in predisposed people, sweating can exacerbate a yeast infection called tinea versicolor, which is caused by a yeast that lives on the body. “It takes time to show up, so you might go on a Caribbean holiday and work out, and then experience a flaky, patchy rash of white and brown spots weeks later.”
 
Sweating may help prevent infections
If it seems like you’re always getting sick and you wish you could walk around with disinfectant to sanitize every surface, you might want to consider regular sweaty workouts instead. According to research conducted at Eberhard Karls University Tubingen in Germany, human sweat appears to contain an antimicrobial peptide called dermcidin, which has been found to fight certain germs and pathogens.
 
You don’t sweat out toxins
Well, not in a significant way. Although research has found some traces of bisphenol A (a chemical found in plastics and resins) and heavy metals in sweat, this hasn’t been found to have an impact on your health. “It’s not the skin’s job to get rid of toxins; your liver and kidneys clear toxins,” says Dr. Carroll. “The hot yoga and toxins thing is overblown.”
 
Sweating doesn’t burn calories
Sweating doesn’t burn many calories in and of itself, so simply perspiring on a hot day as you lounge by a pool with a margarita in hand doesn’t equal torching a ton of calories (if only!). You may sweat enough liquid to cause you to lose water weight – but that’ll be temporary.
 
Sweating won’t make your muscles more pliable, but…
When your muscles are warm – which means you’re probably sweating – they’re more pliable, which is why warming up before a workout is recommended. “You want to start with an easier pose before moving into deeper ones that require more flexibility,” says Dave Sewell, a registered kinesiologist and certified exercise physiologist with Leslieville Kinesiology. “Your body increases blood flow to your muscles, so you’re physically warmer and nutrients are supplied to your muscles so you’re better able to perform.” That said, Sewell adds, there is not a lot of research into whether hot yoga in particular (in which you’re warm both inside and out) definitively works better than any other kind of yoga at allowing you to go deeper into postures. “You do the same thing in a hot yoga class: start with easier poses and progress into deeper poses,” he says.
 

 
KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.
 

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