Prepping: Are You Sweating Enough?

Preparing to Sweat sounds a little “icky” but it’s very healthy.

Here in East Texas, despite our not having hit 90-degrees yet (it’s a couple of weeks late this year), that doesn’t mean we are going “sweat-free” around the ranch.

Take last Friday:  Got the UrbanSurvival column done and after a quick bite of food (high protein), saddled up the lawn tractor and did a two-hour intensive on the property.  Our “yard” takes a while to mow, since there are plenty of obstacles (trees, buildings, fences), and also it’s just plain big.  We figure the mowed part to be around 130,000 square feet.

To put this in context, the dimensions of a standard football field are 160 ft wide, 360-feet long and that works out to 57,600 square feet.  Every 10-days,  or so, I mow and trim about 2.17 football fields.  The good news is that there’s “only” 252-feet of edging.  Done right, I can whip through that with three battery pack changes on the Black & Decker line cutter.

Point is, by 10:30 AM, I had worked up a really good sweat.  Then Elaine came outside.

You know, we get a lot of water run-off down the hill, so why don’t we cut a new channel from up above the water well down over that way (gestured west) and down into the woods so it doesn’t come down to the out-building areas?”

She’d been out hiking up and down, seeing where the rain course was.

New power tool saddled-up was the Kubota and 45-minutes later, I was thoroughly re-soaked in sweat.  My shirt looked like it had just been pulled from the  washer.  Worse, my pants were soaked, too.  When you’re tractoring from mid-spring to early fall and it’s 85 (or more) and humid, it’s a given even your butt (lower back drips where?) will be sweating.

Needless to say, a shower followed after first drinking a quart of filtered water.  Such is sweating in East Texas. Profuse.

People who live in the “big city” don’t actually do much sweating.  Oh, sure, they talk about working out.  But for many, the idea of stepping outside and really putting a “grind on” a particular outdoor activity is as rare as Bigfoot.  Just not going to happen.  Five minutes of sweat?  No, we’re used to an hour or longer.

There has been a lot of recent medical research into heat and sweating  and much of it bears directly on how personally prepared you might be for a real disaster or emergency.  Should such an event show up during the hottest time of the year.  That window is the next 120 days, or so.

Since I’ve had eczema my whole life, sweating used to be my enemy.  The reason was simple:  With eczema, you will occasionally have open sores on your hands (and feet) and sweat plain stings like hell.  But, the odd (counter-intuitive) thing is that when I moved to a hot climate with lots of humidity (the Cayman Islands in the early 1980’s) sweating a lot resulted in my eczema getting much better.  Almost disappeared.

The research in the relationship between sweating and atopic dematitis (of which eczema is a sub-set) continues.  One of the more recent papers is “Sweat mechanisms and dysfunctions in atopic dermatitis..”

The next angle to consider when sweating is water and electrolyte replacement.  When you sweat, there are things like sodium, calcium, and potassium being leeched out with the water.  Take a look at “Sweating Rate and Sweat Sodium Concentration in Athletes: A Review of Methodology and Intra/Interindividual Variability.” for current research.  If you are planning to be an ultra-marathoner, having your doc do a “sweat test” and measuring what’s coming out, may lead to some electrolyte re-tuning.  Normally, though, Pedialyte or Gatorade should do the trick.  A dill pickle and a glass of cool water is cheaper.

Tattoos Inhibit Sweat???

If you have a lot of tats, you might want to consider the findings reported in Skin Tattoos Alter Sweat Rate and Na+ Concentration..

“Tattooed skin generated less sweat and a higher Na concentration than nontattooed skin when stimulated by pilocarpine iontophoresis.”

Tats might make you look fit (and fierce) but the reality is that putting ink 3-5 MM into the skin is about as deep as sweat glands.

Which makes us wonder how long before a smaller number of tattoos will be a sign of improved physical fitness; at least when comes to sweating to cope with extreme conditions.  We’ll know the data is sinking in when pro sports announces some tattoo sensitivity.

By the way, I noticed I had lost a couple of pounds in my high sweat workout Friday.  I’m not the only one asking “How much water is in that sweat-soaked shirt?”  The core of this is addressed in “Trapped sweat in basketball uniforms and the effect on sweat loss estimates.” Eeewe…

And it has become clear since 2016 that sweating does tend to wash-off some potential microbial pathogens.  See Sweating the small stuff: Glycoproteins in human sweat and their unexplored potential for microbial adhesion.

Other Points to Sweat:

  • The general goal of sweat is to cool the body, but not too rapidly.
  • Sweating is good – as in the Finnish Sauna or the Indian Sweat Lodge.  But, within reason.
  • If you do a “sweat” on purpose, don’t take a cold shower after because there is some thermal risk from cold showers.  Can you spell “shock?”
  • For me, the best course is to cool down naturally – until the soaking shirt begins to feel cool – then take a normal (not too hot) shower.
  • You can adapt to summer heat by slowly turning your homes thermostat up 1-2 degrees per month.  In the winter, Elaine and I run our home at 73 and by June, we will be up to 78.  Lower heating bill in the winter (but still comfy and warm) and less of an A/C bite in the summer compared with running 73-year round.
  • If you are doing a lot of mental activity, you may find that your optimal thinking temperature is around 68, or so.  On the other hand, if you’re a criminal there’s a hint in Murder or not? Cold temperature makes criminals appear to be cold-blooded and warm temperature to be hot-headed. that the reality is those terms are inverse to what heat and cold really do.  More on this line of inquiry in “Skin temperature, sleep, and vigilance.”  Warm skin while sleeping, cool when you get out of bed in the morning.
  • As I was researching vitamins and heat stroke, I came across ” Protective effects of alpha-tocopherol and mannitol in both circulatory shock and cerebral ischaemia injury in rat heatstroke ” in which there’s a fascinating remark:
    • “Pretreatment with alpha-tocopherol (20 mg/kg, i.v.) or mannitol (10%, i.v.) 30 min before the onset of heat exposure significantly attenuated heat stroke-induced arterial hypotension, cerebral ischaemia and neuronal damage, the increased free radical formation and lipid peroxidation in the brain and the increased plasma levels of cytokines. Pretreatment with alpha-tocopherol or mannitol resulted in a prolongation of survival time in heat stroke..”
  • That alpha-tocopherol is vitamin E. Damn big dose, too.  No idea was the MED (minimum  effective dose would be.  Along the same lines, see “Protective role of dietary-supplemented selenium and vitamin E in heat-induced apoptosis and oxidative stress in mice testes.”  Whether this heat-helping property of vfitamin E carries over into humans will be interesting to watch over time.
  • A more mainstream approach would be to increase your vitamin C intake.  Good article in Vitality worth a read over here. Maybe the big glass of lemonade actually made sense?

As mentioned, I used to hate sweating.  Now, it’s part of every-day life.  I go with very short hair in the summer, too.  A kind of auxiliary cooling system. Real loose weave hats are good; light colors only and only when in direct sunlight.

Easiest part of better “heat coping” is to consciously decide if you want your body to be “heat ready” or whether you want to live another summer with the marvels of modern climate control; in home, in office, and in-between.

Just pray like hell there are no bumps in the supply-chain until next year…

Write when you chill,

18 thoughts on “Prepping: Are You Sweating Enough?”

  1. George, Love the sweat, my daughter got me into “hot” yoga three years age, have been practicing 3 times a week. Total sweat fest for niney minutes in the hot room. Promptly lost 25 lbs in first 6 months of practice. Flexibility has greatly improved, and helped my golf game (LOL). I highly recommend hot yoga, sweat out the toxins, improve flexibility, works the tendons and joints, and practice balancing.

    • Dude, Hot Yoga is brutal! I tried it once. My ex used to do it she invited me to try it a few times. Im more of a power lifter. So i said, ok i will go do that girly workout with ya it will be a good bonding experience. I was doing 500 lb squats at the time.

      I lasted 45 min and finaly used the “i gotta poop” excuse that every teen age boy uses when it comes to helping Dad work. Ha ha ha ha.

      Hot yoga is no joke. Ha ha ha

      • So true! Hot yoga is definitely for the ectomorph types – the super slender flexible hot girls we all want. For those of us that are heavy lifters, we just can’t dump the heat that quickly. I’m convinced it’s all about surface to volume ratio.

        On the other hand, regular yoga has value for the view and the company.

  2. George,

    Can really appreciate your mowing/sweating challenge. Right now, with all the rain, I have been mowing approximately 11 acres or roughly 480,000 square feet every 5 to 7 days. I “mow” the yard around the house and farm buildings with a zero turn; then jump on the utility tractor with the 15 foot rotary cutter to groom about additional 20+acres of field roads, etc. All this comes in addition to the activities required of farming. Sure glad I do not have livestock. Don’t think my 68 year old body could cope with the demands. Keeping up with our “pack” of 8 cats is enough work. They, however, earn their cat food and care by keeping the mice out of the farm equipment. Mice, it seems, are fascinated with chewing on the electrical wiring of expensive farm equipment.

    Sweating is no problem for me and has never been. During the heavy work cycle in the crop season, it is not uncommon for me to drink a gallon of water during the course of the day, which in turn comes right back out as sweat.

    For the winter months, I treated myself to an infrared sauna a few years back. Twenty to thirty minutes at 130 degrees does wonders to “clean” the system. Always seems to make me feel much more energized after the “heat soak”, shower, and a cool drink of water.

    Water around here is some of the best available from a well. My mother canned some water during the Cuban missile crisis in glass containers. In 2005, after her passing, we were cleaning out the house and found those jars. After all those years, there was absolutely no sediment in the bottom of the jars and no foul smell when the jars were opened. Feel certain that a quick boil and the water could have been consumed. We are truly blessed in this area with a high quality water well supply.

    • “Mice, it seems, are fascinated with chewing on the electrical wiring of expensive farm equipment.”

      Yeah, funny that. It doesn’t seem to matter whether a manufacturer is building an econobox car or a million dollar machine, they all use soybean wiring now…

    • exactly Okie…
      I had heat stroke building our house.. it gets hot outside and I go down.. just like when I froze my fingers and feet.. cold weather and I are not friends..
      thank god for some of the guys at Antarctica.. research center.. best dam boots I ever got.. the bad thing about them.. my feet sweat in them LOL.. so I only wear them in extreme weather LOL…. hell I seen snow flakes yesterday morning.. didn’t stick mixed in the rain.. the farmers had till the 20th.. they were out wallowing in mud trying to show they planted so the insurance will cover it.. LOL.. and the pool officially opens in two weeks LOL LOL Lol…

  3. Sweating also flushes the lymphatic system in the body which can hold many toxins(cancer can develop in the lymphatic system too). I would recommend for electrolyte replacement emergen-c electrolyte packets because you will get no calories from that product.(any caloric reduction helps for me) Also I have found that we need a lot less protein than one might think.10% may be plenty even if you are an 0 blood type(0’s need more than other blood types) Now if you are a body builder or still a growing youth that would be different. Read or listen to Dr. Day’s story, also “Forks Over Knives” is a great Documentary to watch. I don’t think all persons should be vegan but if you are sick with any type of modern day inflammatory illness that type of diet can cure. I enjoy all your discussions on health and all the woo stuff. Not much of a financial person but think anyone who gambles with the market or otherwise should follow your work quite incredible.

  4. A couple of things:

    I never understood the concept of using football fields as a measure of length or area! Why can’t we stick to normal things like feet, yards, meters, miles, sections and acres that can be readily conceptualized? I have to convert football fields to feet before I can even imagine what’s being said.

    Regarding sweating – around here it’s impolite. At 12% humidity I can work hard and lose a quart or two of moisture doing anything outside. Being drenched in sweat has always been gross for me, and dripping sweat in my eyes when trying to work is just awful. At least it’s been a cool spring, though too moist and muddy. My few forays to southeast Texas(Houston and Tyler) have convinced me that some people(me) will never adapt before I die of heat stroke. At least with insensible sweat, your skin stays dry and you cool off. With drenching sweat, you don’t cool off at all – just drip. It can lead to heat stroke if not careful. Some body types do better with sweating than others. Even here in paradise, I avoid the direct sun from May-July. It’s too intense and will result in overt sweat. I always wear a broad brimmed hat with a strap against the wind. Even then, my head sweats. In serious sun(UV index 10+), I’ve found that 1200 or more IU’s a day of Vit E and 2.5 grams of C are helpful for me against the sun, though I’ve never seen literature to this effect. Just my experience, not advice. For some reason, early AM always feels hotter and the sun more intense than later in the day.

    • Good afternoon.

      I was a main line water, sewer, storm pipe layer for 10 years. I used to eat 6000 calories a day and would drink 2 gallons of water and only pee twice. Sweat the rest out back when i was younger.

      Coconut water has the most electrolytes in it.

      Liquid vitamins are best. Body doesn’t digest rocks that well.
      Liquid mineral complex will seriously aid in lightening the brain up much much better. You can actually hold 2 wires in the the liquid mineral complex and light a light bulb by transferring the current through it.

      If you run two wires and hold them to one of those “rock” mineral supliments? It wont light the light bulb.

      You know that human blood is the same exact mineral and trace minerals complex as purified seawater? Read that in some old medical journal. Not sure if its true, but it makes sense.

      I run about 96 degrees (couple degrees lower than the norm), have the blood pressure of a fit teen and my cholesterol is nothing. Must be from all them years of hard work. I usually start perspiration before i even begin physical activity. Like my body knows.

      Thats actually where i learned to meditate and the vallue of it. i found that i could revisit a place i vacationed in my mind while my body slammed pipe 400 lb sticks of 12 inch duckle iron pipe together with a 50 lb digging bar and “knifed” the ditch with a shovel. You bedding the pipe with pea gravel. I could just go for hours and hours non stop and then my helper would say, please! Can we take a break dude im sweating my ass off and cant keep up with ya! In my mind i was on the beach of Maui reading a book laying in a lawn chair while my body here was covered in “duck butter” and dirt pushing heavy iron.

      Learn a few things laying pipe.

      #1. Bells go up hill, sh!t rolls down hill.
      #2. Dont chew your nails.
      #3. Payday is every Wednesday. If you dont show up Thursday? Boss thinks you found another job or won the lottery. Used to have a boss that would always over pay ya like $50-100 and if ya didnt say anything youd be looking for a job. Liked homest people. *note to self, dont call in sick and leave a message at 2am on the company’s voicemail from inside the bar. With the bartender yelling “last call for alcohol
      #4. The guy standing with his hands in his pockets or leaning on his shovel always gets laid off first.
      #5. Pipelayers run the job not the forman. They set the pace for the whole job. And nobody messes with the guy pushing 400lb pieces of ductile iron with a 50 lbs digging bar. I cant do it anymore but i used to be able to throw a 50 lb digging bar like a javelin.
      #6 when its cold out, best to get busy to stay warm

  5. You folks living in the country trying to make your place look like a park. If you wanted a damn park, live in town.

    George, if a farmer in India had a tractor like yours they could grow food for a thousand people.

    Bet you didn’t know in the USA there are more acres in lawn than in cultivated farm land.

  6. Here on the Big Island, caring for 1/3 acre is about the sweat equivalent of your two football fields with big power equipment. Mine is all by hand, with a push mower. Many obstacles, lava rock outcrops, fruit trees, hills, etc. Local friend (Filipino) goes out in nothing but shorts and gets dripping wet, and complains about the fire ant bites he always gets. Being caucasian, I have had more than enough sun in my younger years, and avoid sun like the plague. Long jeans, long sleeve shirt, and a broad brim ‘lifeguard hat’ for sun protection. This is my sweatsuit for the weekly yard workout. Yep, it’s hot, humid, sticky, and terrible until the job is done. But I don’t get fire ant bites, or skin rash from the noxious vines. In between mowings, there is always weeding along the fence lines and various places that I do in short aerobic bursts with water stops in between to let the heart rate recover in the shade for a few minutes. I take 2 or 3 pickup truck loads of green waste to the dump every week.
    I took off 25 lbs when I ‘retired’ to the ranch here and started this routine to recover an overgrown property from the jungle. Cholesterol down, sugar down, & I feel great… when I recover from the muscle fatigue. Protein is a ‘must’ to feed this, and magnesium citrate for the muscle cramps afterwards… along with the electrolytes.
    Doc asks me “Are you getting enough exercise?” Yep… aerobic yard work!

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