Your Most Burning Sweat Questions — Answered

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Sweat is one of those harmless bodily functions that, like queefs and nosebleeds, we've been trained to find embarrassing and gross. But, here's the thing — we all sweat and, frankly, we have some questions about the process that we'd like answered. Luckily, Shape spoke with Mary Beth Brown, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Indiana University, on the topic.

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For some reason, sweat's often associated with a lack of fitness, and yet, the more we work out, the more we seem to sweat. There are actually two reasons for why this happens: "One is that as you improve your fitness, you tend to exercise more intensely, which can make you sweat more. The other is that you get better at sweating the more you do it," Dr. Brown says. So, sweating is like any other skill you can improve upon as you work out. That said, it's not the only marker of fitness; don't forget to pay attention to your heart rate when you're exercising.

A separate — but related — issue is how long you sweat after you stop working out. Dr. Brown explains this is connected to the heat you generate in your body when you're active: "When you stop exercising, your body continues to generate heat to fuel functions like restocking your energy stores and redistributing your blood flow." Sadly, this could mean you'll keep sweating even after a shower. Shape recommends a few tricks to encourage a gradual cool-down, like showering in cooler water and using and fan.

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Sweat is harmless, even if it gets in your eyes. Dr. Brown says it can certainly sting, though, since "sweat contains salt, which can irritate the eyes. Plus, it's slightly acidic compared with the eye's fluid." Keep a towel handy or wear a sweatband if it becomes bothersome.

Click through to
Shape for more on sweat and what it can tell you about your health.

Related: The Case For Cold Showers

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