Although we sometimes want to avoid sweating all together, there are several reasons why we sweat…and also several benefits.
The main purpose of perspiration is to cool the body. When our core temperature spikes (either through the generation of heat from exercise, the environment, or both), our body works to send this heat to our extremities to be dissipated. From here, we go through “evaporative cooling,” where the heat energy is used to transform our liquid sweat into gas. This is most efficient when there is a high gradient between our skin and the air; however, when the humidity is high, sweating becomes less efficient.
This is one example of how our sweat levels are NOT always indicative of how hard we are exercising. There are several factors that play into how much you sweat, including:
Humidity - the more humidity, the more we tend to sweat
Age - the younger we are, the more we tend to sweat
Gender - men tend to sweat more than women
Genetics - some people naturally sweat more than others
Weight - heavier people tend to sweat more
Fitness level - surprisingly, more fit people tend to sweat more, more consistently, and more quickly; this is because the body has learned how to properly and efficiently regulate temperature through repeated exposure to exercise.
There are also several benefits of sweating, including but not limited to:
the release of endorphins
a decrease in stress hormones
the promotion of healthy skin
increased circulation to the body and brain
protection against illness
helping to rid the body of harmful toxins (there is some debate on this, but there is significant evidence that supports this as true)
When in doubt, sweat it out.
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS