Increased Sweating During Exercise?

DrSugar Answers: Why Suddenly So Sweaty?

DrSugar is in the house! And she's answering your health-related questions.

Dear DrSugar,
I used to never sweat as much as I do now that I started working out. I am now 21 years old and recently started working out; when I would exercise at a younger age, I would not sweat as much. What does that mean?
Suddenly Sweaty

First, I’d like to commend you on initiating an exercise program! Physical fitness is very important not only for your health, but for your mental well-being as well. Your question is a great one and I’m sure that other FitSugar readers have wondered about their own perspiration patterns. The one piece of information I do not have in this question is whether or not your increased sweating is only occurring during exercise or if it is all the time. I'm going to assume it's only during exercise, and to see my answer to this question, please continue reading.

Let's review the basics: sweating is primarily a means of thermoregulation, an essential function that helps your body regulate its temperature. Thermoregulation helps to cool your body by excreting sweat from the sweat glands, which then evaporates off of the skin. There are other ways that the body can cool down, but these generally involve external factors (think fans, cool air, cold swimming pools, etc). There is a complex process that takes place at the brain level when your core body temperature increases to initiate sweating. Two situations will stimulate sweat glands: physical heat/activity and emotional stress. Unlike emotional stress where the sweating is restricted to certain areas of the body (we’ve all experienced this!), sweating from physical heat/activity occurs throughout the body. I hope that you are actively and aggressively hydrating during and after your workouts. This is extremely important, so that you do not get dehydrated.

There is a myth that people who are out of shape or are just starting to exercise sweat more profusely. This is generally not true, as sweating during exercise is a sign of more efficient cooling. An athlete who has adapted to keep the body core temperature cool during exercise will move more blood to the skin’s surface quickly and thus release heat more efficiently from the body. It could be that you are working out more regularly now compared to when you were younger and thus are more efficient at cooling by sweating. However, in my research on the topic of sweating and aging, typically the number of sweat glands decreases with age, so I don’t think that age has anything to do with why you are sweating more.

If indeed you are sweating more all of the time, there could be other medical causes of increased sweating that have nothing to do with exercise. These include increased caffeine intake, certain medications (thyroid supplements, morphine, and some psychiatric medications), fever, infection, low blood sugars, or overactive thyroid gland. If you are having increased sweating all the time, I recommend you see your primary care physician to discuss this problem.

Hopefully this helps answer your question regarding sweating and exercise! And to all of the FitSugar readers/athletes out there, Summer is upon us! With warmer temperatures come increased body temperatures and sweating, so be safe and always keep hydrated when you are exercising or doing outdoor activities.

Have a question for DrSugar? You can send it to me via private message here, and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

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