Fitness Fun

Sweat it Off: Why a Stinky, Sweaty Workout is Actually a Good Thing

I admit it, I sweat a lot.

Call it genetics, call it unlucky, call it whatever you like, but sweating is as natural for me as blinking.

And it’s not the shiny, sparkly, pretty sweat you see on fitness models in the magazines.

It’s more like the stinky, smelly, pool in your unmentionable places that leaves its signature on your clothing kind of sweat.

In fact, my teenage son doesn’t like to sit by me after a hard workout because he thinks I stink! Can you believe his nerve?

I politely breathe through my mouth while driving him and his stinky friends home from football practice, and now I’m the stinky one.

But guess what? It doesn’t bug me. In fact, I kind of like it. Not necessarily the stinky part, but most definitely the sweaty part.

The truth is, nothing makes me feel better than dripping with sweat when I finish a workout. To me, it’s a sign of a job well done.

A sign that I just accomplished something great. A sign that I’m getting stronger and healthier with every drop I drip.

Let me explain.

Why Do I Sweat?

sweaty chest
Sweating is actually pretty cool. It’s like your body’s own built-in air conditioner. Sweating is your body’s way of regulating its own temperature.

Think of it this way: dogs pant, humans sweat.

It’s natural, it’s normal, and it’s going to happen whether you want it to or not. It’s typical for an individual to sweat off an average of 1 liter of sweat per day.

That amount increases with your exercise and activity levels.

Sweating happens for a few basic reasons:

  • A rise in body temperature
  • Exercise and activity
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Hormones
  • Illness

There’s one other thing you should know. Overweight people tend to sweat more than others.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “… sweat rate is likely to increase because the body must exert more energy to function and there is more body mass to cool down.”

Health Benefits of Sweat

Now that you know all about sweat, it’s time to learn more about the health benefits that come from breaking a sweat:

1. Helps Heal Wounds

Someone wrapping a bandage around a wounded knee

According to University of Michigan researchers, “Sweat glands play a major role in healing human wounds.” The sweat glands on your skin also help provide cells to heal scrapes, burns, and ulcers.

2. Releases Toxins

Sweat is primarily made up of water, salt, and calcium. However, there are other trace minerals in there too. Many of those trace minerals are toxins such as lead, zinc, copper, and iron that you probably don’t want hanging out in your body.

3. Antibiotic Effects

A woman in red resting against a wall because she's tired after a workout

Your sweat glands are constantly producing a natural antibiotic called dermcidin. Bacteria tends to thrive in hot, moist conditions (hello sweat!) and dermcidin can limit what grows on our skin.

4. Helps Prevent Kidney Stones

Since you’re sweating out so much salt and calcium, it doesn’t have a chance to deposit in your kidneys and urine, a major contributing factor to kidney stones. A 2013 study at the University of Washington found that women who increased their activity level and reduced their calorie intake were 31% less likely to to develop kidney stones.

5. Makes You Happy

Two young women stand side by side and laughing at something funny that one of them must have said.

Ever heard of a runner’s high? It’s a real thing and it’s really good for you. Thankfully that same high doesn’t just come from a run. It can come from any good workout. Sweat increases endorphin levels which help you feel happier. Exercise (and you better be sweating if you exercise!) has also been linked to helping with depression.

6. Natural Pain Reliever

It turns out that the extra endorphins you’re flooded with during sweaty exercise have another cool side effect. They work as natural pain relievers, causing the brain to reduce our perception of pain.

7. Can Boost Weight Loss

Trainer Lindsey smiling with a packet of IdealBoost

Let’s not forget the all-important fact that if you’re sweating because you’re exercising, that means you’re probably burning calories. Burning calories usually equates to losing weight, especially if you couple your sweaty workout with a great weight loss program like IdealPlan.

Dealing With Sweat

Even though there are many great benefits to sweating, it’s hard to ignore those few not-so-great side effects:

  • Sweat marks
  • Stink
  • Dehydration

Those things are can be uncomfortable and maybe even embarrassing, but I have a few simple tips and tricks to help you out:

Sweat Marks

Spoil yourself with some new workout clothes. Sweat-wicking fabric will breath better and dry faster. Remember that dark colors help hide sweat marks, so whatever you do, please stay away from gray!

If you’re worried about armpit marks, stick with tank tops. Steer clear of skin-tight workout clothes so that your body heat doesn’t get trapped near your body.

Try letting your workout clothes air dry before tossing them in the laundry basket. This will help keep bacteria from growing on them while they sit in a damp and crumpled heap in your laundry basket. I always hang mine over the edge of the bathtub after a workout and move them to the laundry basket the next day.


This one is hard to avoid. Most people have stinky sweat. If you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t, then congratulations. If you’re like me, embrace it and plan for it.

Know that you have to shower after your workout. Don’t plan to run errands, don’t plan a coffee date, don’t plan anything but a shower. Then make sure to use deodorant.

Don’t forget that you’re not going to stink forever and that you might even impress someone with the smell of your hard work–but it probably won’t be your teenage son!


It’s important to remember that when you sweat, you lose water from your body. When that happens, you run the risk of dehydration. To prevent dehydration, make sure that you take in plenty of fluids during and after exercise.

If you’re not a water fan, skip the soda and try IdealBoost. You’ll get hydrated with the extra bonus of weight loss assistance. It’s a win-win.

Celebrate Your Sweat

sweaty legs

It’s important to remember that everybody sweats. Some sweat more than others. Some smell worse than others. And some won’t even admit that they break a sweat!

It doesn’t matter which group you fall into. What matters is that you celebrate your sweat. Know that it’s doing good things for you. It’s helping you live a healthier, happier, and definitely not heavier life.

Wear your sweat marks like a badge of honor and embrace your stinky self, because it turns out that sweat has a lot of benefits that don’t stink at all.

Need a few workouts to help you get your sweat on? Try the FREE 12-week IdealShape Up Challenge to help you lose fat and build muscle in only 30 minutes a day:

Join the IdealShape Up Challlenge


Becca Mathis

Becca Mathis

Writer and expert

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