How Men and Women Sweat Differently

This study was conducted to assess if intensive exercise produced different results in the sweat glands of men and women.  The results showed that sweating was greater on the temple, torso, arms and thighs in participants who regularly exercise, as compared to those who had had no training in exercise for both men and women. This increased rate of sweating was more prominent in men than in women. This difference between men and women was also more prominent when the intensity of exercise was increased.

Studies have revealed that the rate of sweating increases with an increase in the number of sweat glands that are active and the total amount of sweat released per gland. Although activated glands are higher in women than in men, it has been seen that the rate of sweating is lower in women than in men, especially during dry and/or humid weather. It is speculated that women have lower sweat production than men. Control of sweating also depends on the amount of physical exercise. This study attempted to find out whether gender differences and differences in being trained or untrained in physical activities impacted the sweating rate of an individual.

* Thirty-seven male and female participants were included in the study. The study population included eight men with physical exercise training and nine men without training. There were also 10 women without such training and 10 women with training. All women were in the same time of their menstrual cycle, to avoid hormonal differences between each of them.
* The volunteers were asked to cycle on exercise machines for an hour, at a temperature of 30 degrees C and humidity of 45 percent. The rate of cycling was set at 50 rotations per minute.
* Sweating rate over the temples, torso (front and back), forearms and thighs, of the participants, was assessed using specific techniques.

Results/Key findings
* Sweating rate at the measured sites was higher in trained subjects than in those without training, among both men and women. With more intensive exercise, the sweating rate was greater in men than in women with similar training.
* The only difference perceived was in women without training. This group did not show rise of sweating with increase in exercise intensity.
* The results also revealed that women without any physical training needed a higher temperature of the body or more intensive exercise to activate their sweat glands, as compared to trained or untrained men and trained women.

Next steps/Shortcomings
The authors agree that the male hormone testosterone has been shown to affect sweating. But in this study, this parameter was not measured and assessed. The authors also mention that the exercise capacity differences in all the four groups was not clearly defined and could be due to differences in “endurance” training in the groups. In order to explain better, they suggest future studies that assess levels of testosterone and its association with sweating.

This study showed that, “sex difference in the effects of physical training on the sweating response, and the degree of improvement with physical training is smaller in females than in males.” The gender difference also rises with the rise in intensity of the exercise. The most prominent difference was seen in women who had had no training and who needed to exercise more to raise the number of active sweat glands and sweat production per gland. The results imply that sensitivity of sweat glands was different in the two sexes and that their physical training status also affected the rate of sweating and activation of the sweat glands.

For More Information:
Sex Differences in the Effects of Physical Training on Sweat Gland Responses During a Graded Exercise
Publication Journal: Experimental Physiology, 2010
By Tomoko Ichinose-Kuwahara; Yoshimitsu Inoue; Osaka International University, Moriguchi, Osaka Japan

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.