Exercise and sweating go together. But, let’s get real, sweating isn’t always pleasant. Was that tactful enough? Still, exercise and sweating go together.
Maybe understanding a little more about sweating will help. And while we’re at it, let’s talk a little about exercise and dehydration too!
Most people know that we sweat to cool the body. During exercise your heart pumps faster to move more blood to the organs so that it can absorb the excess heat. If the blood then gets too warm, the capillaries just under the skin open for more blood (that’s what makes you get flushed) which brings the heat closer to the surface. When the sweat forms on the skin, it draws the heat down as each drop of sweat evaporates. How does it do that? It takes heat energy to create all that water and to cause it to evaporate. Like magic, the heat is removed from the body through the evaporated sweat! That is exactly what the body needs!
This is all good UNLESS you don’t do your part to support your body’s cooling system. The water for the sweat comes from the blood. So, if you’re sweating a lot, you’re literally reducing your blood volume a lot. If you lose too much water from the blood, it becomes thicker. If it gets too thick, it can’t move as easily to where it needs to go. Since blood also delivers oxygen to your organs and your muscles, losing too much water creates some serious problems. This is dehydration. Some symptoms of dehydration are dizziness, clumsiness and disorientation. This is not the time to ignore your body’s need for water. If you do, your body will conserve water by reducing the flow of blood to the skin and therefore reducing the cooling mechanism of sweating. Now everything is moving towards a heat stroke where the body temperature rises very quickly. Not good.
So, let’s stop here and appreciate that lovely sweat. And, let’s make sure we remember to take these steps to keep all systems working together towards fitness!
- Drink a glass of water about a half an hour before exercising.
- Drink a ½ glass or more of water every fifteen or twenty minutes during exercising. Don’t wait until you are thirsty! If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated!
- Wear clothes that breathe.
- Don’t exercise in hot sun or extreme temperatures.
It’s interesting to note that exercise causes this internal cooling system to work better in fit people than it does in unfit people. Fit people’s bodies resist fluctuations in their core temperature better. Unfit people will heat up faster which will cause the sweating to start sooner. So, the fit person and unfit person generally sweat the same amount but the unfit person starts sweating sooner. As with other body systems, a good fitness program makes everything work better!
One more point… Don’t think that forcing profuse sweating is a good weight loss approach. You can lose water weight by “sweating it off” but not fat!
Just keep exercising and drink the right amount of water to avoid overheating. All good.