Sweat is normal. More so when we are doing exercises.
We don’t really think about our sweat when we exercise other than to wipe it down with a towel when it gets a little too much. We know it’s there because sweat stings when it gets in our eyes. We know we sweat when we have to wipe it off of the gym equipment as a courtesy to the next user.
But how is perspiration related to your recovery after exercise?
To answer this question, we looked at articles published by Michigan State University, American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Library of Medicine to understand how we sweat and how it relates to recovery after exercise.
In this article, we will talk about:
1. What perspiration is
2. What happens to your body during exercise
3. What happens during recovery
4. How perspiration is related to recovery after exercise
5. Short and long-term recovery
6. How much sweating is enough
What is perspiration
Perspiration, also known as sweating, is the release of water from our eccrine sweat glands.
According to this article from Michigan State University, perspiration is our body’s way of regulating our temperature . When our body temperature increases, a part of your brain – the hypothalamus – tells your sweat glands to start releasing fluids to cool you down.
This is why we sweat a lot when we have a fever or when we go to a sauna.
When our body heats up, it needs to cool down and release excess heat. But the body does not just release the sweat and let it dry on our skin. The sweat has to evaporate for the body to actually cool down.
The sweat leaves through our pores and evaporates when it hits the air.
What happens to your body during exercise?
So, what happens to our body when we exercise, and how does sweat relate to it?
When we do aerobic exercises or any type of exercise, our muscles expand, or flex. This causes our muscles to heat up and increases our body temperature, which makes us sweat.
Because our muscles are working hard when we exercise, our heart will then start to beat faster and pump blood quickly to our body. This tells our body that the muscles need more oxygen in order to keep them moving.
To keep our body from overheating, we begin to sweat to release excess heat in our body. This is why we need to drink water to replenish fluids when we sweat.
What happens during recovery
When we exercise, our muscles tire out. This causes microscopic damage to our muscle cells. This is the soreness we sometimes feel in our muscles after we exercise. It is also called “delayed-onset muscle soreness” or DOM .
Microscopic damage to our muscles means there are tears in our muscle fibers. This is why we experience muscle soreness, stiffness, swelling, or spasms.
During recovery, our muscles repair the damage caused by high intensity exercises. It allows our body to be prepared for another day of exercise .
How is perspiration related to recovery after exercise?
Since we are losing water when we perspire, we should also replace the water that we lost so our body can replenish fluids and energy. Our body replenishes water when we drink water.
Drinking water between reps is good for keeping us hydrated throughout a workout session. If we don’t drink enough water, our bodies won’t be able to regulate properly and risk dehydration .
Since our muscles can generate more heat when we exercise, we lose more water than when we are at rest. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) recommends finding your sweat rate to know how much water you need to replace sweat loss.
According to UPMC, you should drink 80 to 100 percent of every pound that you lost while you exercise to keep the balance of the sweat you lose and your water intake. For example, for every .5kg you lose, you should drink at least 400 to 480ml of water or sports drink .
Short term vs long-term recovery process
Most of the people in the fitness community do intense physical training everyday so they can achieve the results they want to see in their bodies.
When we do demanding activities all the time, the body does not get enough rest and the tears in our muscles get bigger, which is the cause of injuries in most cases.
One study stated that damage in our muscle fibers causes inflammation which decreases our physical work performance.
When you are injured, you will need more time to rest your body. It will take longer for the muscles to repair and you have to decrease the intensity of your workout once the muscles have healed.
This is why a recovery process should be part of your workout session. Recovery is not just resting the body. It is also rehydrating your body and fuels it with healthy foods.
Let’s take a look at the two recovery methods and see how you can incorporate both into your workout routine.
Short-term recovery, or active recovery, happens after intense activity or workout. It is doing low-intensity exercises during the cool-down phase of a workout session.
Now, you might think that recovery means resting and not doing anything. But, active recovery lets your heart rate go down at a slow pace to let you recover from your exercise.
This is why you see sprinters walk or lightly jog after they cross the finish line or why most people do some stretching at the end of their workout.
Other low-intensity active exercises you can do are jogging, brisk walking, or even swimming.
According to this one study, active recovery is easily implemented and is an effective strategy that can prevent you from passing out after an intense workout . This article recommends 6 – 10 minutes of active recovery after a workout session for the best results.
Long term recovery
This type of recovery refers to long periods of rest that add into your workout schedule. This can be days or weeks of rest where you let your body repair the muscle, catch up on sleep, and not do any intense exercises.
Most people like to do workouts without a long-term recovery period and push through without resting.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, our muscles usually become sore within 28 to 48 hours after we exercise. That time should be a good recovery period before starting another workout session.
Even if you are not feeling any soreness after a workout, it is still important to rest and let your body recover.
How much sweating is enough
Sweating is a natural part of our body. But not sweating enough, or excessive sweating might cause problems.
If you don’t sweat enough, the body will not be able to release enough heat which can cause overheating in the body.
If excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis causes dizziness, pain, or nausea, you have to contact your health provider immediately.
Although hyperhidrosis in the hands and feet may cause psychological damage more than a physical one.
Exercising and working up a sweat is beneficial to our health.
While we may think that we are getting the best result in exercising everyday, it might actually be detrimental to our health. While it is okay to exercise a lot, it is also important to add a recovery period to your workout session. This is true especially when you do intense training.
It is also important to drink water between reps and after a workout session to make sure that you replace the water that you lose when exercising.
If you do not have a recovery period already, now is the time to add it to your workout routine to achieve the best result for your health and body.