“Ladies glisten, men perspire, horses sweat.” Weeeeell, not exactly true.
We've all felt that trickle of sweat sitting under a hot sun watching our kids on Game Day. It may not always be pretty (just take a look at Rafael Nadal), but it’s actually our bodies’ ingenious way of maintaining balance. That’s because burning calories through physical activity generates heat from our muscles. In order to avoid overheating, the water in our muscle cells exchanges heat with the water in our blood, carrying it away. And our skin serves as the exchanger! It releases that extra heat in the form of sweat. Kinda crazy, right?
Well that’s just the start.
6 more facts about sweat:
- How much we sweat is determined by factors including gender, genetics, environment, age and fitness level.
- On average, we sweat about 1 liter (or 4 cups) a day. But most of it evaporates unnoticed. Under extreme conditions, a human can sweat more than 3 GALLONS in a day!
- The average person has 2-5 million sweat glands throughout the body, with the highest density found on the palms of our hands and soles of our feet. This number never changes, baby to adult.
- Sweat itself is odorless. It’s the bacteria on the skin mixing with sweat that produces body odor. Thanks, guys! And it's mostly colorless. Though in rare cases, some people do sweat in color (one woman's sweat turned red from the red dye used in her favorite snack).
- Armpit sweat gets most of the attention, but only accounts for 2% of our body’s perspiration.
- Anything in your blood small enough can percolate out through your sweat. So, evidence of your morning coffee, favorite snack (see #4 above), health or even how you’re exercising can be found in the drips left on your yoga mat, Gridiron jersey or anything you touch.
If you’re still on the fence about sweat, get this. It could be much worse. According to Sarah Everts, author of The Joy of Sweat, “dogs drool to stay cool, vultures poop on their legs and seals urinate on their feet”.
So the next time you toss a sweaty shirt into the laundry, just remember– your body is doing something pretty amazing. And thank goodness you’re not a dog, vulture or seal.