WHY DO WE SWEAT?
Whether you’re going for a jog, running around after the kids, relaxing on a tropical beach, or preparing for a presentation at work, sweating is a fact of life. We all do it. But sometimes, excessive sweating can be uncomfortable or lead to unpleasant odours and visible marks – all of which can be embarrassing in public situations.
Although it can be bothersome at times, sweating is an important way to regulate your body temperature. After sweat is released, the water-based liquid evaporates. This helps to draw the heat away from your skin to cool you down. There are several factors which cause you to sweat, including:
- Physical activity that elevates your body temperature
- Being in a heated environment
- Heightened emotions such as fear, stress, and anxiety
- Recollections of these emotions
- Infections and fever
- Fluctuations in hormone levels
- Food and diet
WHAT IS SWEAT?
When your sweat glands are triggered, they secrete sweat on your skin’s surface. Sweat is made up mostly of water and salt. When it is released it lowers your body’s temperature. When your body reacts to you being in a warm, stressed or physically demanding environment it turns on its natural cooling system – sweating.
Your body has 2.6 million sweat glands, on average. They are found on almost every part of your body – your lips being one of the few places where you don’t sweat.
Your sweat glands are made up of two main parts, the coiled section – where sweat is produced and the duct – the path your sweat takes to reach the surface of your skin. However, not all sweat glands were created equal. You have two types of sweat glands:
1. Eccrine Sweat Glands:
Eccrine glands are found all over your body, but the highest concentrations are in your palms and the soles of your feet. Sweat from your eccrine glands is made up of mostly water, salt and potassium.
2. Apocrine Sweat Glands:
Your apocrine glands are found where you have the most amount of hair follicles – your underarms, groin and scalp. In emotional or stressful situations, you sweat from your apocrine glands. This type of sweat is thicker and contains fatty acids and proteins.
DO MEN SWEAT MORE THAN WOMEN?
Despite women having a higher number of sweat glands, male sweat glands actually produce a higher volume of sweat. A study by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, USA found that even when men and women drank the same amount of fluid during exercise:
- The women's sweat rate was 0.57 litres per hour
- The men’s sweat rate was 1.12 litres per hour
In addition, the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw found that while females sweat less than males, they evaporate sweat on their skin more efficiently. This means a woman is able to adequately cool down her body without as much sweat as a man needs for the same result.
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