The Importance of Sweat

By Foster Keebaugh

Humans have many unique attributes when compared to other animals. The human brain’s ability for communication, self-awareness, and sentience is what sets it apart. However, an over looked attribute of human’s is the ability to sweat. Humans are one of the few species that can sweat, however, it is rarely talked about.

Sweat is an important part of the body and is significant in a lot of ways. Evolutionarily, sweat helped humans hunt more effectively. Sweat allows for the running of longer distances without overheating and exhaustion. According to pennmedicine.org, being able to run longer distances was an advantage over competing species when hunting. Ancient humans would chase a much faster animal until it got too tired and couldn’t get away, where as other predators relied on ambushes. Meat received from the hunt was essential to further development of the brain as it provides essential amino acids involved in brain development.

Sweat is also essential in maintaining homeostasis and controlling body temperature. Sweat glands release chemicals like sodium, potassium, and chloride. The average American consumes a thousand milligrams more than the recommended daily amount of sodium, an element most commonly in found in salt. Elevated levels of sodium and other molecules can lead to many negative health problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Sweat releases endorphins when exercising. Endorphins are neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for happiness. When exercising the endorphins released result in happiness and lowered stress, which may lead to better sleep.

The cause of sweat is on the cellular level. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule used to make and store energy on the cellular level. Healthline.com says that when muscles start to work harder the cells break down more ATP that provides energy to the cell. The process of this breakdown is called cellular respiration and releases heat. The cells alert the brain to the heat levels, and the brain sends signals to the sweat glands to start sweating. Mayoclinic.org says that sweat glands use osmosis to pull water into the gland and secrete it onto the skin. Once on the skin the water evaporates taking thermal energy with it, cooling the body down 

Sweat is one of the wonders of the body because humans are one of the few species which evolved to have the ability to sweat.  Sweat is more important to the body than most people think and is a vital part of the body’s energy system. 

Pictured- Cross Country runner Dashiell Hilbert sweating after practice


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