Sweating is a vital mechanism for humans to regulate body temperature. Sweating results in the loss of body fluid and some electrolytes. A reduction in these can have an adverse effect on athletic performance, and it is important for us to replace these. The measurement of the amount of fluid and electrolytes lost through sweating can be used to to give feedback to athletes about making changes to improve their hydration and exercise recovery practices.
There are many ways to collect and measure sweat, here are a few of the more common methods.
- Sweat Monitoring — biometric skin monitors to measure sweat rate and composition.
- Sweat Analysis — measure electrolyte composition of sweat after collecting samples using absorbent skin patches.
- Sweat Loss — total sweat loss measurement using body weight changes from before and after exercise.
- Sweat Patches — measurement of site-specific sweating rate by applying patches to certain sites on the skin.
- Whole Body-Washdown — method for whole body sweat collection.
What Does it Mean?
The results of the sweat analysis can be used to get a greater understanding of the person's physiology, and to give feedback to athletes about making changes to improve their hydration practices.
Sweat composition can provide insights into the health, fitness and physiological state of athletes. For example, some people may be found to be 'salty sweaters', meaning they have high concentration of Na- in their sweat. These individuals may benefit from appropriate modification to their fluid and food intake for optimal electrolyte replacement.
By monitoring sweating rate, that the the rate of fluid loss from the body, and the subsequent hydration level, can be used to create appropriate strategies for replacing these fluids during and after exercise.
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