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Scientific Things About Sweat That Probably Didn’t Know

While sweating can be messy, stinky and even disgusting for some, it is also your body’s natural cooling mechanism. When your body temperature rises from exercise, heat, stress or hormone shifts, sweating helps keep your internal temperature at a comfortable 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Perspiration is made almost completely of water, with smaller amounts of other chemicals in it as well. Perspiration leaves our body through tiny holes in our skin called pores, and when the sweat meets the air, it begins evaporating (turning from a liquid to vapour) and cools us down.


Sweat is a great cooling system, but it is also a great way for our body to remove certain elements from our bloodstream. Salt, ammonia, potassium, glucose, lactate, and urea, to name a few. Our sweat also contains biochemical markers such as metabolites, electrolytes, and even heavy metals, which can give doctors and researchers a window into a person’s health and even aid in diagnosing some diseases. Sweating is regulated by the autonomic, or sympathetic, nervous system. Signals, using the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, are sent to the sweat glands. The sweat is then released to the skin surface through ducts. 

Andres Ayrton/ Pexels | Everyone has between 2 and 5 million sweat glands spread across the body


Sweating further explained 

In the human body, there are between 2 million and 4 million sweat glands spread all over the body. There are two types of sweat glands that are involved in perspiring. The first one is the Eccrine glands, which respond to heat; they release an essentially odourless sweat directly onto your skin and in your armpits, the areas of the body with the highest concentration of sweat glands. Whereas, the Apocrine gland develops in your hair follicles and responds to heightened emotions and heat. They release fatty sweat that’s broken down by bacteria on the skin, in a process that produces a stink. 

Cottonbro/ Pexels | Sweat is a liquid made from 99% water and 1% salt and fat


The volume of sweat you produce depends on various factors such as:

  • Body mass: According to science, people with a larger body mass generate more heat and hence, more sweat. The great surface area that comes with a larger body also requires more perspiration to cool it down. 
  • Fitness level: People who are very fit sweat more than their less-fit counterparts. But if fit people and less-fit people are performing the same task, the less-fit person will sweat more because they have to expend more energy to perform the same task.

    Pixabay/ Pexels | The fitter you are, the more easily you sweat


  • Muscles mass: Muscle mass produces more heat than fat. So even if two people have the same bodyweight, their sweat rate will differ based on their percentage of muscle mass.
  • Health status: A number of health conditions and life stages can impact how much you sweat. Colds, flu and even mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression can impact how much you sweat. Hormone fluctuations in particular are often linked with an increase in internal body temperature.

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