What Is Sweat & Is More Better During Your Workout?
What most people already know is that sweating is our body’s way of cooling itself down — namely during a workout or intense physical activity or even a super stressful situation. But, did you know that there are two types of sweat glands, which, thankfully, are the reason we don’t have to spray or roll deodorant (without aluminum!) all over our entire body?
What is sweat?
First, let’s start with the basics. Sweat is made up mainly of water (H₂0) and salt (Na+). This is why adequate hydration is extremely important, so your body has the means to cool itself down. If you are dehydrated going into a workout, besides likely not feeling very well, your body will not be able to cool itself down and regulate its core temperature properly. And, the same goes for replenishing lost hydration after an intense workout as well. If you do not compensate your sweat loss with proper fluid intake, especially for those who are engaging in intense physical activity, a hypohydrated state can occur as well as an overall increase in core body temperature (1). Remember sweat is water and salt, so you’ll want to properly hydrate with water (of course!) as well as homemade electrolyte drinks or mindfully incorporating a bit of salt (preferably Himalayan sea salt) into your meals.
Two different types of sweat glands
Eccrine and apocrine are our bodies two types of sweat glands. The eccrine glands are the ones responsible for cooling down the body when our body temperature rises. They are found all over the body and open directly on the surface of the skin, which then allows the sweat to evaporate causing this cooling effect (2).
Apocrine sweat glands, on the other hand, are found under the arms and in the groin area — areas where there are generally more concentrated hair follicles. These sweat glands are also triggered by increased body temperature, but mostly activated during times of stress, anxiety or hormonal fluctuations. This sweat is a bit milkier and mixes with the bacteria on the skin which creates the, not-so-pleasant, body odor (2).
Does more sweat mean you’re working out harder?
The amount that you sweat depends on your weight, gender, fitness level, age, where you live (climate) and even your genetics (2). An overweight person is going to sweat more easily because the amount of energy needed to execute a particular activity is going to be higher. Additionally, a fitter person who works out regularly will begin to sweat faster than a not-so-fit person because the body is smart and is already prepared to sweat to cool itself down while training.
How to handle your sweaty self
1. Proper hydration
Most people walk around chronically dehydrated! Be sure that you’re consuming the recommended 30ml per kg of body weight per day (15ml per lb of body weight per day). And if you’re exercising for more than one hour, add an additional 0.5 liters for moderate intensity, 1 liter for high intensity and 1.5 liters for extremely high intensity. Most importantly, you should be drinking water even when you are not thirsty! The feeling of thirst is actually your body crying for help, not an initial signal. If you’re not sure if you’re drinking enough, see if any of these 9 signs of dehydration apply to you.
2. Wash up beforehand (and after, of course!)
If possible, wash off any makeup or lotions you may have put on throughout the day. These can block the pores and prevent your body from cooling itself down the way it should. Blocked pores (especially on the face) during training can also increase blemishes. Wash it off quickly beforehand if you have time.
3. Proper training clothing
Don’t stuff yourself in non-breathable fabrics for your training. You’ll be happier training in moisture-wicking and breathable materials. Find your perfect training gear and you’ll see what a difference it makes!
How to know if you’re sweating way too much
If you feel that you are excessively sweating, especially outside of workouts and stressful situations, see your doctor about a condition called hyperhidrosis. People with this condition find their sweat interfering with everyday activities: sweaty palms making turning a doorknob difficult or clothing becoming noticeably soaked without having engaged in any sort of strenuous physical activity (3). But do not be ashamed or embarrassed if this is you. You are not alone! Nearly 5% of the global population is dealing with hyperhidrosis (4).