Photo by Sonja Hults
Columns Lifestyles of the Fit and Healthy

Sweat: Our body’s air conditioning system

We have 2.6 million sweat glands in our body, covering nearly every inch. Sweating, also known as perspiration, helps regulate our body’s temperature. The arm pits, palms of our hands, face, and soles of or feet, are the most common areas that release this fluid. It is completely normal when our internal temperature rises, when the outside temperature heats up, and during times of high emotion, to get wet with sweat. As a fitness studio owner, sweat is the perfume of my business.

Sweating is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which means we do not consciously control it. We have 2 types of sweat glands. Eccrine sweat glands cover our body, and produce the odorless, lightweight sweat.

Apocrine seat glands are located in areas that have hair follicles including the arm pits, scalp, and groin. These are those lovely sites that form body odor due to this liquid mingling with the bacteria of the skin. It’s the bacteria on the skin that smells, not the sweat itself.

Deodorant works by killing the bacteria on the skin and helps to reduce the amount of sweat formed.  Some of these flowery scented sticks contain triclosan, which is a chemical that makes the armpit too salty for the bacteria to live. Antiperspirants plug up the sweat glands with aluminum salt, which puts a halt to smelliness.

Sweat is composed of sodium, potassium, chloride, and yes even a little fat. As the sweat evaporates, the body cools down.

Exercise causes the body temperature to rise, causing sweat to work its magic to cool yourself down. Emotional sweat can result from fear, anger, anxiety, or embarrassment. Food can even make you heat up. This is called gustatory sweating triggered by spicy foods, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages.

Certain medications like pain killers, synthetic thyroid hormones, and fever reducing drugs can cause the body to produce this liquid. Menopausal women experience sweating with the onset of hormonal fluctuations.

Some people are just sweaters. In a certain context that is fine like at the gym or in the sauna, but sweating isn’t exactly socially acceptable when heading into a job interview or meeting a person of love interest for the first time. The sweaty palms handshake might mean nervousness. The sweaty back after being the in car for so long just isn’t a good look. But hey, working up a sweat through exercise is always right by me.

The Lifestyle of the FIT and Healthy works up a sweat at least 30 minutes per day, 4 to 6 times per week, wears deodorant, and brings a towel for proper gym etiquette. It’s “cool” to sweat for fitness and health and even “cooler” when you are a role model of this lifestyle for others.