Is sweating good for you?

I just moved into a new apartment and my bathroom has a steam bath built in to the shower (essentially a sauna).

So, I was trying it out and it works as advertised. The shower enclosure got all steamy and hot and I dutifully sweated. However, while cooking myself, I wondered if there was any real benefit to this mild form of torture? Sweating releases mostly water and some salt and I suppose a few other things but is that in any way useful to my body? If I walk out of the shower and drink a bottle of Gatorade I probably put back* whatever I lost in the sauna and then some. Is there a health benefit to doing this or am I just getting to sweat without actually doing any hard work?
[sub] *My brother-in-law (a doctor) told me that the guy who invented Gatorade analyzed the composition of sweat and made a drink that emulated sweat. The theory being it’ll put back whatever you are losing. I do not know if this is true or if he was pulling my leg but his contention is that Gatorade amounts to bottled, synthetic sweat. Yum! [/sub]

Gatorade: yep, that’s true. He bottled it and the Florida Gators used it. Thus, Gatorade.

Sweating: more anecdotal evidence than anything is all over the place. Healthy pores, relaxation, etc.

The best case for sweating could come from this recent spin on a number of things that affect longevity and health: mild forms of stress delivered on a regular basis can actually make the body more resilient to damage from oxidants/free radicals. Sweating is a mild form of stress.

The benefits of a steam bath, sauna, or hot tub session aren’t just caused by the sweating, it has more to do with the heat than the sweat.

Most good health clubs will have a sauna, steam room, and/or a hot tub. This is becuase the heat provides relief from the strained or sore muscle after physical activity. The heat also helps releive arthritis pain.

During a 20 minute sauna/hot tub/steam bath session, your heart rate will increases by about 50. This provides the same metabolic effect as an exercise and the increased cardiac load is that of walking. Blood pressure also decreases because the heat causes blood vessels in skin to expand to accommodate increased blood flow. If your goal is to lose weight, you’d still be much better off going for a real walk.

Blood vessels become more flexible and there is increased circulation to the extremities. During a sauna/hot tub/steam bath, blood flow to the skin increases dramatically. This brings nutrients to subcutaneous & surface tissue resulting in glowing healthy skin.

Steam is an excellent treatment for respiratory problems, such as chest congestion, bronchitis, laryngitis and sinusitis.

Of course the heat will cause sweating which provides a comprehensive cleansing of the skin and sweat glands. Skin is the largest organ in the body. 30% of body wastes are passed through the skin. Profuse sweating enhances the detoxifying capacity of the skin by opening pores and flushing impurities from the body. Did you know sweat is chemically very similar to urine?

Skin temperature rises to 104 degrees (depending upon the heat setting and session time) and internal body temperature rises above 100 degrees. Exposure to the high heat creates an artificial fever state. Fever is part of the body’s natural healing process. Fever stimulates the immune system resulting in increased production of disease fighting white blood cells, antibodies and interferon (an anti viral protein with cancer fighting capability).

Nope…I didn’t know that. But I’ll keep it in mind the next time someone offers me Gatorade :D.

No offense intended, but this sounds like the pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo you get from “alternative” medicine a lot of time. It may be true that “Fever is part of the body’s natural healing process”, and it also may be true that “exposure to high heat creates an artificial fever state”, but the implied conclusion that artificial fever will stimulate the healing process does not necessarily follow.

To make an analogy, high engine temperatures are part of a car’s normal operating state, but heating the engine up doesn’t make it go.

I don’t mean to pick on you, and what you say certainly may be true, but I’m gonna remain skeptical until I see a cite.

you are right in that it is an “alternative” medical procedure. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. There have been several studies dating back to the 1950’s. Lately, HIV researchers have discovered that the virus doesn’t like the hotter temp and a lot a research is currently being done.

Personally, whenever I get a cold or flu, I find that sitting in my hot tub with the temp at 104 for 30 minutes gets rid of the bug\virus very quickly.

There is much evidence that fever makes the infecting bugs (at least some of them) unhappy and may well speed up getting over an illness. It definitely does not follow that there is any other health benefit from running a fever. If there were, why do people die in very hot weather, especially in high humidity. I might use a steam room when ill, but never when well.

Sweat is nature’s way of moisturizing your skin. It’s more effective than any lotion. I don’t set any store with folks who make any other claim for sweating.

Native Americans use sweat lodges as a prayer/purification rite, and I don’t know much about that. A friend of mine runs a sweat lodge, but I’m asthmatic, and it scares me a bit.