Sweet Sweet Sweat

Reposted and edited.  Or revised.  Whatever.

I was recently watching tennis, the French Open.  One of my favorite sports events ever is Wimbledon.  That and the U.S. Open (tennis version) are bittersweet because Wimbledon marks the beginning of summer, ironically culminating around July 4, and the U.S. Open sadly marks the end of summer.  However, on the good side, it usually coincides with the start of football season.  But I’m not writing about tennis.  I’m writing about sweating.

I play tennis, and I especially love to play when it’s 90+ degrees outside.  Sometimes I put a little baby oil on before playing because it exaggerates the sweat.  On a really hard serve, I’ll actually see drops of sweat flying off my arm.  When I feel sweat running down my back and legs it reminds me that I’m getting a good workout.  That sweat is there for an important reason, but at the French Open I was watching Rafael Nadal take a towel and dry off sweat between almost every point.  If your racquet hand gets sweaty, that’s a bad thing as the racquet will occasionally either twist in your hand or just fly away.  So yes, wipe the sweat off your hand and that arm, wipe it off your face so it doesn’t get in your eyes, but don’t wipe it off the rest of you.  It’s better to leave the sweat on you.

We’ve all done this:  you’re in a swimming pool for a long time, comfortable in the water, and then you get out and run for a towel because it seems so much colder out of the pool, even on a hot day.  The same thing happens when you get out of a shower or bathtub.  This is because you’re covered with drops of water.  Water absorbs heat.  When drops of water sit on your skin, they pull heat from your body, giving you an instant cool down.  It’s your body’s own air-conditioning system.  When your temperature gets too high, you sweat, and the purpose is exactly to place drops of water on your skin to suck the heat out of you and cool down.


Wiping away that sweat does three things:

1. it stops your body from naturally cooling itself down
2. it causes your body to create more sweat
3. it dehydrates you faster because your body is using water for sweat.

It might feel a little weird, but leave the sweat on you.  The human body is a brilliant machine.  Put down the towel, and let your body do its job.

25 thoughts on “Sweet Sweet Sweat

  1. It probably has something to do with the Victorian aversion to natural functions connected with humans. My grandmother always used to gently correct my cousin or I who made the mistake of using the word “sweat” when referring to humans:

    “Animals sweat, gentlemen perspire and ladies shine,” she would say.

    It’s not good to sweat, perspire or shine too much, though, because it drains off the body’s minerals. If they get too low, we become tired.

    Perspiration is one of the ways that the body uses to get rid of toxins. Another one is urinating. The third one isn’t mentioned in polite company. Which takes us back to that Victorian thing again.

    We still seem to be having trouble talking about bodily functions – particularly when they involve waste. Perhaps that’s also why we’re having so much trouble with recycling the other waste that we produce. It could all be connected.

  2. I used to play tennis in junior high but when I got to high school, tennis was an after-school sport. That didn’t sit well with my wise old grandmother so I had to give up tennis. That, however, has never prevented me from watching everything tennis I can find on television. Unfortunately, our cable provider doesn’t offer the Tennis Channel yet.

  3. I think tennis players either develop metabolisms that funnel water out of their bodies through their skin with incredible skin, or only people with that metabolism become tennis players. Serious sweating, and way underrated as athletes.

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