While sweating it out at the gym may not be ideal for finding a hot date, it is key to managing body temperature and staying hydrated. So rock the “I just got out of the shower” look and get sweaty!
Gonna’ Make You Sweat — Why It Matters
Before Snoop Dogg starts dripping, let’s get to the basics: Sweating is all about temperature control. When body temps rise (like, say, on a hot summer day or during an intense workout), the eccrine sweat glands kick into gear to keep our body temperature stable . Once the body passes 98.6 degrees, the brain’s hypothalamus (a.k.a the body’s thermostat) goes off— and no, it can’t just be turned down. This triggers the glands to release a salty mixture of water, sodium chloride, and other electrolytes . When sweat leaves the skin’s pores, it evaporates into the air, taking some heat with it.
So it makes sense that a particularly tough run or strenuous pick-up game ups the body’s temperature and the need to sweat it out . But it’s not just body temperature that causes sweating. During exercise, heart rate and blood pressure increase, which in turn cause the body to pump out more sweat. Plus, repeated exercises, like lifting weights, can turn on sweat glands even without soaring body temps . Even when blood pressure falls after time at the gym’s up, the body often keeps churning out sweat because the muscles stay stimulated  .
Blood, Sweat, and Tears — The Answer/Debate
While no one likes that sticky post-gym feeling, sweat is essential for a good workout. And while it’s been rumored that those who sweat like pigs aren’t as in shape as those who stay dry as a desert, some studies have found physically unfit women sweat less than their in-shape cohorts .
But it still looks like the phrase “men sweat, women glow” will never die: Even science suggests fit men sweat more than fit women . One study found gals produced less sweat from each gland, even though both male and female athletes had the same number of sweat glands .
One thing everyone can agree on— it’s essential to drink lots of water before and after a workout. And research suggests even pro athletes may not be drinking enough to stay hydrated   . During exercise, the amount of sweat pouring out is often greater than the amount of fluids heading into the body, leading to dehydration. This messes with the body’s ability to regulate temperature and can hurt performance   . And If you’re not a huge fan of H2O, sports drinks can also help replenish the body’s fluids. Before reaching for the bucket of sugar-loaded sports drinks (Gatorade shower, anyone?) remember that the sports drink should contain moderate amounts of glucose and sodium. These nutrients can help the body speed up rehydration and supply carbs to working muscles for an extra dose of energy .
Photo by Marissa Angell