Sweating, or perspiration, is a natural and healthy reaction of your body to over-heating. It can happen as a result of hot weather, nervousness, stress, and exercising.
Sweat consists of mostly water, but also contains electrolytes such as potassium and salt, as well as minor traces of other compounds. It is produced by sweat glands which open up onto the surface of the skin.
Did you know? The average person has 2.6 million sweat glands in their skin.
The optimum temperature for humans is 37 degrees, but when your body temperature rises above this, your autonomic nervous system is triggered to cause your sweat glands to secrete fluid onto the skin. This sweat carries the body’s heat to the surface of the skin, where it evaporates.
If you remember from your physics classes, you will recall that the process of evaporation, the changing of a liquid into a vapor, requires energy. In this case, the energy is heat energy. So, as the sweat (liquid) from our body evaporates (turns into vapor), heat is absorbed from the body, causing us to cool down.
Did you know? Males tend to produce more sweat than females.
There are many factors affecting how much you sweat, some of which are manageable (like eating spicy foods or hot beverages) and others that can be the result of a more serious health issue (such as a fever or even cancer). There are even conditions associated with too much sweating (hyperhidrosis) or too little and even no sweating (anhidrosis)!
One factor regulating the amount sweat produced is your level of fitness. The healthier and fitter you are, the better your body is at regulating its temperature. So, a fit individual will start sweating at a lower core body temperature, causing them to sweat sooner to keep their body temperature as close to normal as possible.
Did you know? Pigs can't sweat because they don't have sweat glands.
Someone who is fit also tends to sweat more as their body increases the size and number of its sweat glands – another means to help them keep cooler! The fitter you are, the less electrolytes (salt and potassium) you also secret in your sweat, as more of it is absorbed by the body. This causes your sweat to become more dilute and more and more like water. Now you can see why it’s such a good idea to drink lots of water after a heavy workout!
Did you know? With the right temperature and humidity, the average runner can lose two to four pounds of sweat an hour!
Studies have also shown that people who are more fit are better able to manage low or even moderate degrees of dehydration than those who aren't fit. Did you know that an Olympic Marathon runner finished the race in 2 hours 14 minutes even though he lost 8.1 percent of his body weight in sweat!?
So don’t sweat it. Its cool to sweat…literally! Alright, I’ll end this article now…
More Fast Sweat Facts
- A pair of human feet have 250,000 sweat glands
- Apocrine (sweat) glands develop during puberty
- You are sweating right now, even though you don’t notice it!