Why do I Sweat So Much When I Workout: An Amazing 101 Guide

Why do I sweat so much when I workout? This is probably a question that we all ask ourselves at some point in time. It is known to everyone that exercise makes us sweaty, but what is the reason behind it, and why does it happen.

People are many a time concerned about excessive sweating, but only a few know the actual reason behind it and what can be done in order to reduce it.

Although it is a natural phenomenon and excessive sweating is not something that one should be ashamed of, we take a deeper look into it and try to answer the common question, Why do I sweat so much when I workout?

Why Do I Sweat So Much When I Workout

What Exactly is Sweat?

Sweating is a natural phenomenon that happens to all human beings as the body temperature rises. Sweat production is done through sweat glands which are present all over the skin of the human body.

These sweat glands are located in the dermis, which is a relatively deeper part of the skin. Sweat profusely contains water but it also has a little salt present.

The primary and essential function of sweat is to regulate body temperature. When the excess sweat evaporates from a person’s body, it cools the temperature around the skin and hence lowers the overall body heat.

Underarm sweating is a pretty common thing. Some of the most prominent sweat glands in the human body are present on the forehead, armpits and souls, and palms of the feet. More sweat glands are present in the remaining areas.

Normal sweating generally takes place in all the common areas of the body in sufficient amounts. Not forgetting the smell of sweat, sweat has no smell; the foul smell that we associate with sweat is actually just body odor.

Apocrine Sweat Glands

The apocrine sweat glands1 are essential glands of the human body which are related to hair follicles.

These are known to be of great importance as they are the major glands responsible for the sweating of the entire body. These are generally located in the groin area and also the underarms.

Now, before answering the question, Why do I sweat so much when I workout? Let us first look into various other aspects related to the topic of discussion.

How To Sweat Less - The Science of Sweating

How Much Sweat is Normal

Another important and relevant question that arises in our minds is that we know we sweat, but How much of it is normal and healthy for us?

The human body is a highly complex structure, and understanding it ultimately can only be achieved after years and years of research and studies from various scientists, doctors, and medical experts.

Every person is different, and people sweat differently; there is no question about that. Thus, this is where people analyze the extent of sweating in different individuals and try to study the same.

Some people sweat a lot, and some don’t, and there are many scientific reasons behind it. Lifestyle living habits and fitness levels also play a significant role.

There are commonly three types of sweating2 that take place with us humans. Normal sweating, excess sweating, and reduced sweating.

1. Normal Sweating

If you want the ideal answer of how much, this is where you should be. This is where the amount is completely normal, and there is absolutely nothing for an individual to worry about.

Normal sweating occurs due to expected heat generated in the body, and it also stops sweating after a while.

It has been found that an average person sweats about 0.5 to 2 liters in an hour of exercise. Now, how much you sweat is does not depend only on you but you can certainly work towards being healthier.

Some reasons for normal sweating in a person could be eating spicy foods, hot weather, high humidity, and similar circumstances.

If you know someone who falls under this category and still comes up to you and asks, Why do I sweat so much when I workout? Let them know that their body’s sweat response is normal and all is good.

2. Excessive Sweating – Hyperhidrosis

When an individual sweats more than they should, it is generally a condition called hyperhidrosis3. A condition known as idiopathic hyperhidrosis is the most widely seen.

No known cause exists for this condition, which is why it is called idiopathic. A good workout will undoubtedly make a person sweat, but if they have Hyperhidrosis, this sweating will be a lot.

Sweat levels increase by many folds in this condition and affect the whole body. Sweating a lot can make a person feel embarrassed in front of other people and cause health concerns.

A person who asks, Why do I sweat so much when I workout? should read this part of the article carefully.

i) Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis

Primary focal hyperhidrosis 4is when the part of the nervous system responsible for triggering the sweat glands becomes overresponsive without being affected by external sources such as heat exhaustion or exercise.

Feeling anxious leads to an increase in the severity of this problem, and hence anxiety disorder is not desirable. Some people suggest that this medical issue can be hereditary.

A picture by: Marco Verch Professional Photographer (original photo and the license)/ Flickr

ii) Secondary Hyperhidrosis

Secondary hyperhidrosis is another form that usually occurs due to an existing medical condition. This is not as common.

In this, people start sweating sooner and start sweating profusely. Some of the health conditions which cause secondary hyperhidrosis are Diabetes, overactive thyroid conditions, low blood sugar, and a few more. Having any of the health conditions is terrible for a person, and in this case, it makes it even worse.

This sweating problem is not just limited to sweat, and it can also lead to various other serious issues such as infections and social issues. Excess sweating is not desirable.

“Why do I sweat so much when I workout?” you should probably take out some time and read about Hyperhidrosis.

3. Reduced Sweating – Hypohidrosis

Hypohidrosis is a condition wherein a person tends to sweat less than they ideally should. It is called Hypohidrosis when sweating reduces to a great extent and is called anhidrosis if there is a total loss of sweating.

In this case, the body is seen to barely sweat. The basic reason for this to happen can be explained by saying that the sweat glands do not function properly. This can also occur because of skin disorders.

Burns caused to the skin surface also damage the sweat glands, which can eventually lead to this condition.

Less amount of sweat generated can cause fluctuations in the body’s core temperature, which is very unhealthy and unsafe. Sweat glands can also start to absorb sweat at a higher than usual rate which may result in no sweat being shown.

If you find yourselves among those who ask the prolonged question being, Why do I sweat so much when I workout? Then this condition is probably something your body is not even close to.

Body Temperature

Hot summer months are known to cause more sweating in the human body. As the outdoor temperature rises, the glands produce depends on this, and hence they produce more sweat.

Sweating helps us to maintain the ideal body temperature, which is about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. More body mass in a person generally leads to more sweat production.

However, normal and healthy bodies adapt to external conditions, and the body responds accordingly. This is not the case in other situations where a person has any one of the above-mentioned problems.

So if you ever sit and wonder, Why do I sweat so much when I workout? It can also be because of a lack of proper exercise, which dramatically reduces excess body fat. Getting in touch with an exercise physiologist is never a bad idea.

How To Tackle Both The Issues

There are various ways in which both increased and reduced sweating can be treated for a person.

Some of the methods are mentioned below:

1. Treatment for Increased Sweating

One of the most commonly used methods to prevent excessive sweating is the use of Over Counter Aluminum chloride hexahydrate cremes.

Such cremes can be applied by the individuals in the areas which are affected the most, and this can be continued for 3-4 days. If improvement is not visible, either an increased usage of this or other methods will have to be implemented.

In the case of severe Hyperhidrosis, doctors often recommend Botox injections to the affected patients. Botulinum toxin injections5 are popular. This method is also followed by a process known as Iontophoresis.

Iontophoresis is the process in which people submerge their hands or their feet in shallow buckets of water and then pass a slight current through it. The science behind what happens in this process is not fully known, but it has seemed to work.

If none of these things work, a doctor may also recommend surgical methods to reduce sweating. Though this method is generally not proffered by anyone.

Shifting to wearing loose-fitting clothing in place of tight clothes may also help.

2. Treatment for Reduced Sweating

It has been seen that Anhidrosis is caused due to some already prevailing medical issues. So, it is wise to first look into this existing medical condition.

Certain medicines used by many people across the world may also cause reduced sweating for a person. Hence, reducing or stopping the usage of such medications also helps. However, this should not be done without the consultation of a doctor.

Lack of hydration is another issue that leads to this, and this is why we always see well-trained athletes keeping themselves hydrated at all times. Drinking as much as water possible is beneficial.

In contrast to the treatment for Hyperhidrosis, shifting to loose-fitting clothes rather than tight slim-fit clothes can help the sweat glands to function properly.

The Texas Southwestern Medical Center

The Texas Southwestern medical center has carried out various studies on how different bodies adapt and react, hence their sweat response and generation.

These studies are based on the well-known fact that every individual is different. Experiments have been carried out by examining two individuals who are made to do the same amount of workouts.

Results show that even people of the same sex, build, and height may produce different amounts of sweat on their bodies. This can be because of something as basic as the number of sweat glands in an individual’s body as compared to the other.

Dr. Craig Crandall of the Texas Southwestern medical center has asked this question several times himself. Why do I sweat so much when I workout? and hence wanted to study and research more about this topic.

why do i sweat so much when i workout
A picture by: Alexandra Lehmann/ Flickr

A Basic Workout Routine That Will Make You Sweat Just The Right Amount

This at-home basic workout routine is followed by many people across the globe as it involves only basic exercises and does not require any additional equipment, and also makes a person sweat the right amount.

Getting right into it, first, come the traditional squats. Squats are of great importance and are indeed a great addition to any workout routine. Some variations like the pistol squats can be included as well.

Is a workout even a workout without the all-important push-ups help you build your chest and, without doubt, make you sweat enough to be included in this list.

To complement the push-ups, sit-ups or crunches are obviously necessary. Helping in building the core muscles, sit-ups are a tiring exercise to do and are helpful for opening up the pores in the form of sweat.

Finally, if needed, burpees can also be included in this workout regime. These go very well with the above-mentioned exercises.

Why do I sweat so much when I workout? try doing this routine at least two times, then maybe you would come to know what precisely actual sweating is!

Some Important Facts About Sweat and Sweating

Not many people are aware of certain interesting and important things that are there to know about human sweat. This is not something without knowledge of which a person is called stupid, but what harm as extra knowledge ever done to anyone.

Medical practitioners worldwide keep on emphasizing that we must be aware of our entire body, and doing so, makes us better placed to face any health issues.

Sweat is also an essential part of the human body system as it is something that happens to everyone and is also an important aspect. Let us take a look at some interesting facts about sweat.

1. Sweat is Unique

Like in the case of fingerprints, wherein every fingerprint is unique in itself, and no two people can have the same fingerprints, sweat acts in the same way.

Sweat comprises many compounds and chemicals, which are also different for each person. Hence, no two people can sweat the same!

2. Sweat is Odorless and also Colorless

After sitting for just a few minutes in humid environments, we sense a bit of sweat production in and around our bodies from various parts. This shows how fast we sweat.

We often notice a specific smell too when we sweat, and it is generally a foul smell. Well, as mentioned in the early stages of the article, sweat does not have a scent or a color of its own.

This smell is produced when bacteria in our skin react with the chemicals present in sweat. This odor or color is often associated with sweat.

3. Sweat is of Different Types

Yes, you read that right. We sweat when we are stressed, and also, we sweat normally. The first one is stress sweat, whereas the second one is regular sweat.

In fact, these two different kinds of sweat also comprise different things. While regular sweat mainly comprises water, salt, and potassium, stress sweat is made up of proteins and fatty acids.

This was the answer to the prolonging question asked by many, Why do I sweat so much when I workout? To get things clear, sweating is absolutely nothing that one should be ashamed of as, again, it is a natural process.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you are placed in a better position than you were in before regarding managing your health, your lifestyle, and your priorities and are also able to answer the question, Why do I sweat so much when I workout?. We must all be aware of what is happening within our bodies and always try to remain as healthy as possible.

If you feel that you are experiencing something which is not generally normal for someone of your age, visiting a doctor should be the first thing that you should do because delaying things related to your health is unsafe.

So start working out, stay fit and enjoy life to the fullest!

  1. Shelley, Walter B., and Harry J. Hurley Jr. “The physiology of the human axillary apocrine sweat gland.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology 20.4 (1953): 285-297. ↩︎
  2. RANDALL, WALTER C. “The physiology of sweating.” American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 32.5 (1953): 292-318. ↩︎
  3. Stolman, Lewis P. “Treatment of hyperhidrosis.” Dermatologic clinics 16.4 (1998): 863-869. ↩︎
  4. Hoorens, Isabelle, and Katia Ongenae. “Primary focal hyperhidrosis: current treatment options and a step‐by‐step approach.” Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 26.1 (2012): 1-8. ↩︎
  5. Münchau, A., and K. P. Bhatia. “Uses of botulinum toxin injection in medicine today.” Bmj 320.7228 (2000): 161-165. ↩︎

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Agrim Srivastava

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