What Your Sweating Says About Your Fitness Level
Everybody sweats. OK, maybe you perspire, glow or mist up, but sweating is a good thing. But what causes us to sweat, and why is it healthy? In addition, what does it say about our health?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say, "Sweating is the release of a salty liquid from the body's sweat glands. [It] is an essential function that helps the body stay cool. How much you sweat depends on how many sweat glands you have. [We're] born with about two to four million sweat glands. . . [which] start to become fully active during puberty. Women actually have more sweat glands then men -- men's glands are just more active."
1. Sweat is cool. Sweat is our air conditioning system. Even the government supports it. The Defense Department breaks it down in Navy News:
Because sweating is the body's natural way of regulating temperature, people sweat more when it's hot outside. . . when they exercise, or in response to situations that make them nervous, angry, embarrassed, or afraid. Even during moderate exercise, heat production can be ten times greater than at rest. Evaporation of sweat accounts for about 80 percent of this heat loss compared to 20 percent at rest.
As you exercise, your body's thermostat, the hypothalamus reacts to the increase in the brains blood temperature. . . . Sweat glands spring into action, sweat is produced and then evaporates cooling the surface blood supply.
2. Working it out. Fitness experts tell us we need to sweat when we exercise. Why? It tells us we're working hard enough to heat the muscles and get the heart pumping at an aerobic level. Not everyone sweats profusely though. It varies with how many sweat glands you have, the type of exercise you do and how hot your workout environment is. If you swim laps, you won't notice the sweat. If you're doing yoga in a hot room, you'll sweat more than in an air-conditioned room but achieve the same benefits.
3. Cleans you up. Sweating has the same effect as a steam facial or sauna. It opens the pores and cleans them out. Unfortunately, it's temporary and they'll close up again as quickly as they open. For that reason, dermatologists and skin care specialists recommend taking a shower immediately after exercise or on hot days to rinse off the salt, dirt oil and bacteria that cause breakouts if left on the skin.
4. Tells you how healthy you are. Sweat means your body is doing its job correctly - a sign of health. Some people don't sweat at all due to an uncommon condition called Anhidrosis caused by burns, certain genetic syndromes, nerve problems, congenital disorders, dehydration, neurologic disorders, skin diseases and certain drugs. The NIH says, "Overall lack of sweating can be life threatening because the body will overheat. "
5. Shows you how fit you are. Common mythology says "less fit" people sweat more than fit people. Actually, the opposite is probably more accurate. Fit people may be more efficient at deflecting heat from their core to their skin. That's why athletes look drenched in sweat.
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