We all sweat, not only when exercising but also sometimes when it is least convenient. Globally we are on track to spend a whopping 13.8 billion dollars on deodorants and antiperspirants by the end of 2017. But should we really be trying so hard to stop sweating? Your sweat can tell you a lot about the state of your health, the effectiveness of your exercise routine, and even your emotions. Read on to discover some of the more interesting things your sweat says about you.
Are you stressed, anxious, or scared?
Did you know that there are actually two different kinds of sweat? Common sweat is the kind which lightly coats your skin on a hot day, helping to keep you cool by evaporating. This sweat is made mainly of water and salt. But there is a second kind of sweat called apocrine sweat which has a high protein and fat content and generally only happens when we are stressed.
This sweat only comes from certain places on the body, such as the armpits, and can cause very strong smells when it comes in contact with the bacteria on your skin. If you suddenly find yourself sweaty and stinking, it might very well be because you are anxious, scared, or otherwise super stressed out. It can be very inconvenient when you break out into a flop sweat right before that big presentation you have to give at work, but remember that our bodies have adapted to help us survive, and this is just one extreme response your body has when put in an extreme situation.
An indication of health
Sweat can be a common symptom of many medical conditions. Probably the most commonly known is the dreaded “hot flashes” which accompany menopause and sometimes pregnancy. But sweat can also be a sign of a more serious condition. If you are a diabetic and your blood sugar drops too low, sweating can be one of the warning signs you experience. The same with a pending heart attack. In both cases the body undergoes a great deal of stress which can trigger that apocrine sweat again. If you are suddenly sweating along with other medical symptoms such as nausea or dizziness, take notice and seek medical help if needed.
Exercise and hydration
Running, weight training, elliptical, even a stroll on a hot day means sweat. We expect to have common sweat that helps regulate our body temperatures while exercising, but what can your sweat tell you about your workout regiment? Not how hard you are working out, since some people simply sweat more than others.
However knowing your own sweat patterns can be very important. If you are sweating regularly while exercising, then you can be assured that your body is getting the water it needs to replenish what is being used. You don’t need to worry about sweating too much, since that is nearly impossible, just keep drinking that water. On the other hand, if you are exercising and you are not sweating, especially if you normally do, then that is a cause for concern. If your body refuses to sweat, it is a big sign that you are dehydrated and you need a water break right away.
Even though both common and stress sweat don’t have much of a smell until they start interacting with the bacteria on your skin and clothes, the resulting smell and gasses given off can say a lot about your emotional state. If you know someone well, it is entirely possible to tell if they are happy or sad by the particular scent of their sweat. There also appears to be a universal code for which gasses and smells are emitted for different moods across humans in general.
A recent study showed that when you hook up a mass spectrometer to test the air in a movie theater, you can reliably predict which chemicals will be secreted by the audience at certain points in a certain movie. This held true with many different audiences made up of many different individuals. In general, humans will release the same chemicals when watching comedy, and a different set of chemicals when watching something suspenseful or thrilling.