Is it a measure of how hard we are exercising?
Sweating may appear unattractive, especially when you come across a heavy sweater in the gym, but it does serve a purpose. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that sweat is a measure of how hard you are exercising; actually, if you are new to exercise or returning after a long break and you are sweating profusely, it simply means that your body has not yet learned how much or how little sweat is needed to cool you off. This is the true reason why we sweat.
Sweat’s job is to cool your body, whether you are hot from high weather temperatures or from the heat you are producing while working out. Ever notice how flushed and red your skin gets when doing a rigorous workout? The glistening moisture of sweat sits on top of your skin and helps heat from your body evaporate into the air around you. It truly is your own, built-in cooler. Without sweat, you would quickly overheat and find it impossible to continue exercising.
What causes your body to begin producing sweat when you work out?
The task of keeping you cool all begins with the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is located in the brain, and has thermo sensitive neurons which detect your body heat. When you begin exercising, your muscles are working and expending energy. This energy produces heat, and when your hypothalamus detects a rise in body temperature, it sends a signal to the sweat glands on your body to start working to cool you off.
The same thing happens if you are in warm weather or have a fever. All of this is possible because the majority of your body is composed of liquid, which is why it is so important to drink water as you work out to replenish the liquid you lose through sweat.
While sweating a lot can mean that you are producing more body heat, it is important not to use your sweating as a measure of how hard you are exercising. Many people, especially when starting a new workout, generate a lot of sweat not because they are producing a lot of body heat, but because the sweat glands have not learned what the minimal amount of sweat needed is.
As you exercise more regularly, you will sweat less, not because you are working less hard, but because you have become a more effective sweater. This way, your body is not expending precious water uselessly.
When all is said and done, this essential bodily function is your friend, not your foe. Try not to think of sweaty skin as something gross, but rather as an indicator that you are “heating up” and getting some exercise done.
Think about how good people can look with some glistening sweat on their skin – you may find yourself among those who find a sweaty body attractive! See how many good-looking sweaters you can find next time you hit the gym or go for a run, and wear your sweat proudly; you worked for it!