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

Sweat

Before , 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 kick into gear to keep our body temperature stable . Shibasaki, M., Craig G., Crandall, C.G. Department of Environmental and Life Sciences, Nara Women’s University Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, Nara, Japan; Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX. Frontiers in Bioscience (Schol Edition). 2010 January 1; 2: 685–696.. Once the body passes 98.6 degrees, the brain’s (a.k.a the body’s thermostat) goes off— and no, it can’t just be turned down. This triggers the glands to release of water, sodium chloride, and other electrolytes . Shibasaki, M., Craig G., Crandall, C.G. Department of Environmental and Life Sciences, Nara Women’s University Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, Nara, Japan; Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX. Frontiers in Bioscience (Schol Edition). 2010 January 1; 2: 685–696.. 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  Gleeson, M. School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, England. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 1998 Jun;19 Suppl 2:S96-9.. But it’s not just body temperature that causes sweating. During exercise, increase, which in turn cause the body to pump out . Plus, repeated exercises, like lifting weights, can turn on sweat glands even without soaring body temps Roberts, M.F., Wenger, C.B. Medicine & Science in Sports. 1979 Spring;11(1):36-41. Even when blood pressure falls after time at the gym’s up, the body often keeps churning out sweat because the muscles stay stimulated . Shibasaki, M., Craig G., Crandall, C.G. Department of Environmental and Life Sciences, Nara Women’s University Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, Nara, Japan; Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX. Frontiers in Bioscience (Schol Edition). 2010 January 1; 2: 685–696.   Kondo N, Tominaga H, Shibasaki M, Aoki K, Koga S, Nishiyasu T. Laboratory for Applied Human Physiology, Faculty of Human Development, Kobe University, Japan.  The Journal of Physiology. 1999 Mar 1;515 ( Pt 2):591-8..

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 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 Shibasaki M, Kondo N, Crandall CG. Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, Dallas, TX. The Journal of Physiology. 2001 Jul 15;534(Pt. 2):605-11..

But it still looks like the phrase “men sweat, women glow” will never die: Even science suggests fit men sweat more than fit women Shibasaki M, Kondo N, Crandall CG. Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, Dallas, TX. The Journal of Physiology. 2001 Jul 15;534(Pt. 2):605-11.. One study found gals produced less sweat from each gland, even though both male and female athletes had the same number of sweat glands Shibasaki M, Kondo N, Crandall CG. Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, Dallas, TX. The Journal of Physiology. 2001 Jul 15;534(Pt. 2):605-11..

One thing everyone can agree on— it’s essential to before and after a workout. And research suggests even pro athletes may not be drinking enough to stay hydrated Ichinose-Kuwahara, T., Inoue, Y., Iseki, Y., et al.. Laboratory for Human Performance Research, Osaka International University, Moriguchi, Osaka, Japan. Experimental Physiology. 2010 Oct;95(10):1026-32. Epub 2010 Aug 9. Shirreffs, S.M., Aragon-Vargas, L.F., Chamorro, M., et al. School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire UK. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 2005 Mar;26(2):90-5. Rivera-Brown, A.M., De Félix-Dávila, R.A. Center for Sports Health and Exercise Sciences at the Albergue Olímpico, Department of Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, San Juan, Puerto Rico. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 2011 Aug 30.. 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 Ebert TR, Martin DT, Bullock N, et al. Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2007 Feb;39(2):323-9. Sawka MN, Montain SJ, Latzka WA. Thermal & Mountain Medicine Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology Part A: Molecular Integrative Physiology. 2001 Apr;128(4):679-90. von Duvillard, S.P., Arciero, P.J., Tietjen-Smith, T., et al. Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Health and Human Performance, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Commerce, Texas. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2008 Jul-Aug;7(4):202-8.. 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 (r, anyone?) remember that the sports drink should contain moderate amounts of glucose and sodium. can help the body speed up rehydration and supply carbs to working muscles for an extra dose of energy Maughan, R.J., Merson, S.J., Broad, N.P., et al. School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Loughborough University, Leicestershire, UK. International Journal of Sports Medicine and Exercise Metabolism, 2004 Jun;14(3):333-46..

Photo by Marissa Angell