Why Do We Sweat?

AND WHY IT’S TOTALLY NORMAL!


In simple terms, sweating is your body's way of cooling itself down. When exercising your body will naturally increase in temperature, this results in overheating and in turn you sweat as a means to control your internal body temperature. Sweat on the skin requires energy to evaporate.. This energy comes in the form of heat from the body. Ultimately, your heat is transferred away from the body via evaporation. A few factors can affect how much you sweat such as exercise/activity level, diet, clothing and even genetics!


See below for examples of when and why you may be sweating more than usual!


Exercise and Heat

One of the most common causes of sweating is caused by exercise. At the point which you start sweating it is because your body is hot and it is trying to cool itself down. This is totally normal and is nothing to be worried about. When you also combine a hot training environment with this or hot weather, it can be intensified and you may sweat more than usual, obviously, the intensity of the session plays a role too. An interesting fact to also note is that muscle mass produces more heat than fat, meaning if you have higher levels of muscle mass you will naturally sweat more than individuals with lower levels of muscle.


Hormones, Stress and Anxiety

Hormones play a role in regulating body temperature, if for any reason hormone levels change/fluctuate it can result in an increase of internal body temperature. Common causes for this are pregnancy, medication or menopause to name a few. Also if you are experiencing high levels of stress/anxiety or even embarrassment as an example, you will likely feel a full body warmness and a sweaty sensation in the palms of your hands and feet. Again this is normal, once the feelings subside so will the sweat!


Illness and Medication

We have all at one point or another had a common cold or the flu, a very, very common side effect of this is excessive sweating and having a tough time keeping the body cool. The reason for this is that illness can be accompanied by a fever as the body's means of fighting off infection, in turn, this increases internal temperature and will result in sweating more than usual.


Certain medications can also result in excess sweating, anti-depression tablets being an example. If you take any medication and notice an increase in perspiration, take a look to see if they could be playing a role.


Caffeine, Alcohol and Smoking

Caffeine alongside high-intensity exercise activates your central nervous system (CNS). This is why when training hard or having that first strong coffee of the day you feel so alert and awake/focused! When the CNS is activated, the sweat glands are also activated. If you drink lots of coffee and notice that you feel warm or sweat after/close to your coffee consumption, it may be worth cutting back!


Alcohol is also another factor towards sweating excessively, especially if large quantities are consumed. It increases your heart rate, widening the blood vessels in your skin, resulting in an increased body temperature and you guessed it, causing you to sweat. Something often done alongside drinking is smoking, we all know the negative health effects of this, however, it also has another problem and has a very similar effect to drinking. When both are combined, it can result in severe sweating. Just like drinking, smoking raises your heart rate, blood pressure and internal temperature. Another reason not to smoke or your sign to quit!


Clothing

Maybe an obvious one, but worth noting nonetheless. Your clothing can cause you to sweat, how? Constricting clothes such as compression tops/bottoms or tight clothing in general that is close to the skin with limited breathability can result in raising internal body temperature and sweating to keep cool. Depending on the reason, try and wear looser fitting clothes and you will not only keep cool but likely feel more comfortable too.


Nutrition and spicy food

The food you eat can play a huge role in how much you sweat, it can even dictate how your sweat smells! Strange, huh? One of the most common causes of an increase in temperature/sweat is due to spicy foods, perhaps a curry or dish containing a lot of hot peppers/chillies. These contain certain chemicals and once consumed react with nerves that trigger an increase in temperature resulting in sweat. The next time you eat something spicy, see if this happens to you!

Hopefully this blog was useful and shows you just how common it is to sweat and that it is a completely normal bodily function. If you don't sweat it would cause more harm than good. Keep doing what you're doing and bear the information in mind the next time you find yourself worrying about sweating!


Coach Dyl


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