Jan. 11, 2013 at 7:51 AM ET
What's the sweatiest part of your body? It's not your armpits--it's your upper back, according to a new study from the University of Loughborough. The least sweaty regions? Your hands, fingers, and feet.
Sweat may soak your tee and make you smell sour, but it's also a useful part of your body's response to exercise. When sweat evaporates, it takes heat away from the body, keeping you cool. Aside from the smell, sweat is more friend than foe. Here's how to work with it--not against it. (For more ways to improve your workout, check out the 100 Best Fitness Tips of All Time.)
1. Tuck in Your Shirt
One way to increase evaporation and thereby reduce sweat is to tuck in your shirt and allow a gap between your shirt and skin. Doing this will create a pocket of air against your skin that helps sweat evaporate and your body cool.
2. Wipe Your Brow, Not Your Body
As sweat only helps cool the body when it evaporates on the skin, it may seem like wiping it off is a bad idea. "Theoretically, it is," Ollie Jay, Ph.D., principal investigator at the Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory at the University of Ottawa, tells MensHealth.com. "But picking up forehead sweat with a towel is not a big deal. The sweat produced on your forehead compared to the rest of your body is pretty minimal."
3. Step on the Scale
A good rule of thumb is to drink as much fluid as your body generates in sweat. "Typically we suggest that people who exercise a lot in the heat should look at their body weight before and after the exercise," study author George Havenith, of the University of Loughborough, tells MensHealth.com. "That is an estimate of what they lost in sweat and that is what they need to drink." (One pound is about 16 ounces of fluid.) Your body can only absorb up to 32 ounces per hour, so no need to chug gallons at a time.
4. Treat Your Pits Like Dirty Paws
Armpit and groin sweat originate in apocrine sweat glands--as opposed to eccrine sweat glands found everywhere else. Apocrine glands infuse normal sweat with proteins, and are located in the least evaporative areas of the body. This thicker sweat gathers in your pits and groin, and starts to stink. If you can't shower, try using hand sanitizer on your affected areas. It will kill the bacteria and give you a few more odor-free hours.
5. Exercise Your Sweat Glands
If your body temperature is often elevated above your resting temperature, your body will learn to be more efficient in creating sweat. Whether you're training longer or living in a hot environment, your body will adapt. Scientists haven't found a link between ethnicity and sweat response, says Jay, but they have found regional adaptations. Ready to sweat? Check out The NEW Spartacus Workout on DVD!
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