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All About the Sweat

October 28, 2018 0 Comments

Sweat. It’s wet; it’s gross; it gets everywhere. If you truly exercise at all, you will experience it. And if you don’t, there are a few factors as to why. Avoidance of sweat is not always a good strategy while sweating profusely is not either. Let’s get a better understanding of this natural mechanism and appreciate it for what it is.

Why You Sweat

Sweating is the body’s natural process to cool itself down. Sweat can be caused by an emotional response such as anxiety, an illness or physical exertion. When you exert yourself during exercise, your body’s core temperature begins to rise, and this is detected by temperature sensors throughout your body. Your central nervous system—specifically an area of your brain called the hypothalamus—processes this information and signals over two million sweat glands to release (water) sweat. Sweat is mostly water, but it also contains sodium and other minerals. It works by way of evaporation when it reaches the surface of your skin. The water exchanges heat from your skin for the cooler temperature of the air. The blood that runs under your skin is cooled and pumped to the core of your body, helping you maintain an ideal body temperature of 97.9 to 99.1 degrees. To further understand how the process works, think back to a time when you had a fever. During a fever, your body temperature spikes above normal levels. Once the fever breaks, your central nervous system wants to return your body to its normal temperature as quickly as possible. The result is a period of profuse sweating. Just like the harder you work during exercise, the more you will sweat, giving your body a greater cooling effect. Humidity also plays a role in sweating. Humid air is saturated with water, making it harder for sweat to evaporate into the air. This causes the body to release more sweat. At a certain point, your body might not be able to cool itself, resulting in heat-related illness.

Why Do I Sweat More Than Others?

Some people sweat more than others. To many people, sweat is a sign that they’re out of shape, but that is not always the case. People who carry around extra weight most likely sweat more than others. They have to work harder to complete a task than those who don’t carry extra weight, causing their body temperature to rise more. That said, plenty of people are heavy sweaters. As you improve your conditioning, your body becomes more efficient and is better able to regulate its body temperature. When you consistently train, you might notice that you begin sweating more quickly and intensely. This is not because you’re out of shape but because your body has become a more efficient at cooling itself down. Finally, there is the genetic factor. Some people are simply heavier sweaters than others just as there are those who sweat minimally if at all. But let me remind you, sweat is a natural method of your body cooling itself off. To not sweat is not a trait to aspire to have.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

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