Monday, October 25, 2010

Why we all sweat differently

The New York Times Well blog is always a great place for me to check out. Today I found an article about sweat sweat sweat. Why do men sweat more than women? Why do some women sweat more than other women? Why do fit people sweat more than unfit people? Well this article outlines an study that really touches on all of these questions.

Fit women seem to sweat differently than unfit people of either sex, and quite differently than fit men, a fact that has implications for sports performance. It also may have some bearing on what it has meant, since prehistory, to be female.

What the researchers found was that the fit men, unsurprisingly, perspired the most, significantly more than the fit women, especially during the more intense exercise. But the athletic men weren’t using more sweat glands. The fit women had just as many glands active and pumping; they produced less sweat from each gland. Meanwhile, the unfit women, by a wide margin, perspired the least, especially during the strenuous cycling, and became physiologically hotter — their core temperatures rising notably — before they began to sweat at full capacity. These results, the scientists concluded, “revealed a sex difference in the effects of physical training on the sweating response” and, just as important, “a sex difference” in “the control of sweating rate to an increase in exercise intensity.” In other words, the women, whether fit or not, were less adept of ridding themselves of body heat by drenching themselves in sweat.

But why do some women get all drenched in sweat while they work out and others don't. The sweaty gals out there get rather disturbed by the fact they sweat a lot, even sometimes feel a little unlady like. Well I say, lady schmady. Women sweat.

“We know that fitness changes the sweating response,” said Timothy Cable, Ph.D., a professor of exercise physiology at John Moores University in Liverpool, England, who has extensively studied female athletes and how they perspire. As someone becomes more fit, his or her body begins to sweat at a lower body temperature. This is important, because “the body has a critical core temperature,” Dr. Cable said, which occurs at about 104 degrees, after which the brain simply “shuts down the motor cortex.” Unbidden, your legs stop churning and you curl up on the sidewalk until your core temperature drops (or a kind passerby calls 911). Sweating delays the onset of this critical heat buildup by dissipating the excess heat through evaporation. If you start to sweat at a lower temperature and increase your sweating rate as you get hotter during hard exercise, you’re less likely to reach the critical temperature.

I love it when I get a new unfit client who swears she never sweats, that no women in her family sweat and that don't take her lack of sweat as a sign she isn't working. I just kind of nod and laugh a bit to myself. Everyone needs to sweat when they're working hard. Those self proclaimed no sweaters soon realize they've just been taking it too easy all along.

Personally, the more I sweat during a workout the higher I'm going to feel post workout. It might not be feminine in some people's books, but I heart to sweat. Screw being a demure little lady.

1 comment:

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