Gotta Run: Why sweat matters? Challenges and rewards

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 7, 2023

My running has been a little off the last few days and I knew exactly what I wanted this morning. I needed a good sweat on the warmer than usual Wednesday morning. Good things come from sweating for exercise, and I am going to share them. Sweating precedes the wonderful mental benefits that I wrote about last week. Here are a few more rewards from a good sweat.

The primary function of sweating is to help regulate body temperature and remove excess heat from the body so that we can keep on exercising. Without the moderation in body temperature, exercise would become very uncomfortable. Of course, proper hydration to allow body cooling is a must.

Sweating helps to remove excess salt, particularly in long-term exercise. Even though I knew it would happen, almost every marathon that I ran left the sides of my face coated in a salt crust. The body needs a certain level of sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium for exercise and for your blood plasma to stay balanced. The average American consumes more salt than the body needs and often results in high blood pressure and contributes to kidney stones.

Sweating also may help eliminate excess BPA, the industrial chemical used to manufacture food containers, bottled water, canned food and more. The Mayo Clinic says that BPA can lead to hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, brain defects in fetuses and behavioral problems.

There is also evidence to suggest that certain heavy metals can be eliminated by sweating. Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury are known to be toxic and are suspected carcinogens. A heavy metal concentration in the body can cause renal, endocrine, digestive, hepatic and cognitive issues.

Sweat does have some positive benefits to your skin. It moisturizes and cools the skin. Regular exercise and normal sweat production have been shown to have anti-aging effects. Additionally, sweat even helps kill harmful bacteria on your skin’s surface.

A couple more things about sweat. It just feels good as a reward to the effort that you have extended, however sweat is not a sign of weight loss. On some of my extended runs over the years, I have lost several pounds of fluid weight. That fluid weight must be replaced for optimal health.

And finally, you won’t sweat as much for a cold weather workout or when in a climate of low humidity. This doesn’t mean that the workout was any less valuable, just that the body’s heat preventative process wasn’t needed as much. Still, we should celebrate a good sweat when achieved.

Speaking of outdoor workouts, I mentioned earlier that my runs had been off for a few days. I had my annual physical this past week and found that my vitamin D was low, same as it was this time last year. Low but passable at 32 on a scale of 30-100. The doctor and I talked about this, and she confirmed that low D is very common currently. Reasons for this include that direct sunlight, the easiest source, is less available due to short and cloudy days. Extremely cold days recently have kept us inside. Lots of sickness going around adds to the possibility that many aren’t getting out often. Besides sun, D comes from salmon, tuna, egg yolks, fortified milk, yogurt and orange juice. This is one of those good times to consider a vitamin D3 supplement in order to keep the immune system functioning, make sure calcium is absorbed properly and much more.

Our next self-defense seminar is set for Jan. 21 at Sidekick Karate from 10 a.m. to noon. The cost is free, but only 40 total spots are available. You can reserve one by emailing me at

Look for this seminar and Salisbury’s upcoming premier running event, the New Sarum Brewing Winter Flight 8K,5K and Fun Run, at