Sweating is a critical function of the skin, which may contain up to four million sweat glands. Most of these sweat or eccrine glands are located in the forehead and the upper limbs, followed by the trunk and lower parts of the body. However, other parts of the body also have sweat glands, including the palms of our hands and sole of the feet.
The most important function of the sweat glands is to regulate body temperature, especially when the environmental temperature exceeds that of the skin temperature, and also during exercise. Heat loss occurs in the process of evaporation, when the water we lose through the sweat glands are brought to the surface of the skin and evaporates. The amount of water lost is affected by the number of sweat glands that are activated to produce sweat and the amount of sweat produced by the glands. Studies show that the number of sweat glands that may be activated during heat stress of exercise increases rapidly but the amount of sweat produced by each gland only rises gradually.
You can lose a lot of sweat during prolonged exercise in the presence of heat, so that athletes and some people who want to lose weight exercise with heavy clothing on. One study showed that an individual can lose as much as three liters of sweat per hour, but on the average, most of us may sweat at a rate of more than one liter per hour. However, our bodies have an internal mechanism that prevents us from dehydration from continuous sweating. Aside from making us thirsty and prompting us to drink fluids to replace the water lost, our central mechanisms (in the brain) also prompt our bodies to decrease the rate of sweating. The wet skin causes swelling of the keratin layer, which mechanically blocks the openings of the sweat ducts, thus reducing the sweat production.
Can Sweating Help You Lose Weight?
Yes, but there is a two-fold explanation to this answer.
Firstly, the normal human adult body is composed of 60% water by volume. According to medical books, our bodies contain an average of 40 liters of fluid, and two-thirds of this fluid (about 25 liters) is contained in our cells. The rest (15 liters) is in the blood (plasma), in between cells and tissues, and inside some organs (intestines, stomach).
Blood volume may also decrease, as water is redistributed to the cells to sustain them. This results in dehydration and loss of some of our body weight in the form of water. However, we must consider that as we rehydrate ourselves by drinking fluids to normalize our blood volume and body water, we gain back the water we lost from sweat.
However, the good news is that when we exercise hard to induce sweating, we also burn calories and fat. The more we exercise, the more our skeletal muscles, and the heart muscles, work, and the more energy we need to supply our muscles. The result is that we burn fat and calories for energy, and we sweat and shed water weight. If we combine these methods with a healthy, low calorie diet and a healthy lifestyle, we will surely lose excess pounds.
It is good to do moderate to intense exercise to lose weight, but in the process, we must remember not to allow the body to be dehydrated. The main purpose of sweating is to cool the body down during exercise and heat stress, so we must remember to rehydrate as often as we can during and after exercise.
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