Sweating While Exercising Is Misleading

Bring up ”sweat” in casual conversation and you will certainly hear plenty of myths and fallacies, in fact the topic of sweat is dripping with them.  I am going to raise my arms, because I am Sure, and give you some stinky advice that is made for a man but is strong enough for a woman.

The primary purpose of sweat is to cool the body.  If you are sweating, that means you are producing heat and the body needs to regulate it’s temperature.  In fact, the Mayo Clinic says that one drop of sweat can cool one quart of blood 1° Fahrenheit.

If you are walking in 35° weather, you probably will not sweat much, but if you are walking in 95° weather you will sweat a great deal.  The amount of work is the same with each stroll but you sweat more when it is hot.  Sweating more does not always mean you are working harder, as there are many other environmental factors such as room temperature, humidity, air movement, and clothing that will influence this bodily function.

Your cardio intensity should be based on your target heart rate and not the level of sweating you experience.  If you are experiencing limited results with your cardio program, I would look at your cardio intensity/frequency/duration, and your diet.

Now, for those who have gotten a whiff of the stinky guy next to you at the gym, let me clear up another myth.  His sweat is not what is stinking.  It is the waste products of the bacteria that are feasting on his sweat.  So in addition to suggesting Right Guard, you might add shower to his list.

The sweat that comes from your several million sweat ducts is actually odorless, but the fear of odor arising from sweating, fuels a nearly two billion-dollar industry.  And while sweat is primarily water, there are also many electrolytes that are excreted.  The primary electrolytes lost are sodium and phosphorus, which causes the stinging of the eyes and salty taste.

This leads into another popular myth that sweating gets rid of toxins in your system.  While there are minimal toxins released in sweat, the sweat ducts are not a significant path for their elimination.  That is the job of the kidneys, liver, and lymph nodes.  Thank goodness this is true, or we would lose a big chunk of our population during our long cold winters when only the exercisers are sweating.

The last fallacy I will clear up is in regard to the link between breast cancer and antiperspirants.  There is no link!  While antiperspirants temporarily plug the sweat ducts to prevent the wet spots, the Nation Cancer Institute, FDA, Mayo Clinic, and American Cancer Society all agree that antiperspirants do not contribute to the development of breast cancer.



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