European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 104, Issue 2, pp 245–255 | Cite as

Male and female upper body sweat distribution during running measured with technical absorbents

  • George Havenith
  • Alison Fogarty
  • Rebecca Bartlett
  • Caroline J. Smith
  • Vincent Ventenat
Original Article


Body sweat distribution over the upper body in nine clothed male and female runners of equal fitness while running at 65% \( \ifmmode\expandafter\dot\else\expandafter\.\fi{V}{\text{O}}_{{{\text{2max}}}} \) and subsequent 15-min rest in a moderate climate (25°C, 53% rh) was investigated using technical absorbent materials to collect the sweat produced. No significant difference in whole body mass loss (male 474 SD 80; female 420 SD 114 g m−2 h−1) nor surface weighted average of all tested zones for exercise (male 636 SD 165; female 565 SD 222 g m−2 h−1) nor rest (male 159 SD 46; female 212 SD 75 g m−2 h−1) were observed. Local sweat rate (LSR) ranges were large and overlapped substantially in most areas. Males showed higher LSR for the mid-front (P < 0.05), sides (P < 0.05), and mid lateral back (P < 0.01) compare to females. Both sexes showed similar sweat distribution patterns over the upper body with some exceptions. Males showed higher relative (local to overall) sweat rates than females for the mid lateral back (P < 0.001), while it was lower for the upper arm (P < 0.001), lateral lower back (P < 0.05), and upper central back (P < 0.05). Sweating in both sexes was highest along the spine, and higher on the back as a whole than the chest as a whole. Upper arm sweat rate was lowest. Males showed a higher ratio of highest to lowest LSR (4.4 vs. 2.8; P < 0.05). The present study has provided more detailed information, based on more subjects, on upper body sweat distribution than previously available, which can be used in clothing design, thermo-physiological modelling, and thermal manikin design.


Sweating Sex Gender Exercise Regional Clothing 

Supplementary material

421_2007_636_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (91 kb)
ESM1 (PDF 91 kb)
421_2007_636_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (144 kb)
ESM2 (PDF 145 kb)
421_2007_636_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (119 kb)
ESM3 (PDF 120 kb)
421_2007_636_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (112 kb)
ESM4 (PDF 113 kb)


  1. American College of Sports Medicine (2005) ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Williams and Wilkins, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  2. Bar-Or O, Lundgren HM, Magnussen LI, Buskirk ER (1968) Distribution of heat activated sweat glands in obese and lean men and women. Hum Biol 2:235–248Google Scholar
  3. Bar-Or O (1998) Effects of age and gender on sweating pattern during exercise. Int J Sports Med 19(Suppl):S106–S107PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bender R, Lange S (1998) What’s wrong with arguments against multiplicity adjustments.
  5. Bittel J, Henane R (1975) Comparison of thermal exchanges in men and women under neutral and hot conditions. J Physiol (Lond) 250:475–489Google Scholar
  6. Bothorel B, Dewasmes G, Hoeft A, Candas V (1991) Temperature and sweating responses in one-legged and two-legged exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 63:157–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Candas V, Libert JP, Vogt JJ (1980) Effect of hidromeiosis on sweat drippage during acclimation to humid heat. Eur J Appl Physiol 44:123-33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Candas V, Libert JP, Vogt JJ (1983) Sweating and sweat decline of resting men in hot humid environments. Eur J Appl Physiol 50:223–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cotter JD, Patterson MJ, Taylor NAS (1995) The topography of eccrine sweating in humans during exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 71(6):549–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cunningham DJ, Stolwijk JAJ, Wenger CB (1978) Comparative thermoregulatory responses of resting men and women. J Appl Physiol 45(6):908–915PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Davies CTM (1979) Thermoregulation during exercise in relation to sex and age. Eur J Appl Physiol 42:71–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Epstein Y, Stroschein AL, Pandolf KB (1987) Predicting metabolic cost of running with and without backpack loads. Eur J Appl Physiol 56:495-500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ferres HM (1960) The effect of pressure on sweating. J Physiol 151:591–597PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Fogarty AL, Bartlett R, Ventenat V, Havenith G (2007) regional foot sweat rates during a 65-minute uphill walk with a backpack. In: Mekjavic IB, Kounalakis SN, Taylor NAS (Eds). Environmental Ergonomics XII. Biomed d.o.o., Ljubljana. ISBN: 978-961-90545-1-2Google Scholar
  15. Folk GE, Semken A (1991) The evolution of sweat glands. Int J Biometeorol 35(3):180–186PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fox RH, Löfstedt BE, Woodward PM, Eriksson E, Werkstrom B (1969) Comparison of thermoregulatory function in men and women. J Appl Physiol 1969 26(4):444–453Google Scholar
  17. Haslag WM, Hertzman AB (1965) Temperature regulation of young women. J Appl Physiol 20(6):1283–1288Google Scholar
  18. Havenith G (2001) An individual model of human thermoregulation for the simulation of heat stress response. J Appl Physiol 90:1943–1954PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Havenith G, van Middendorp H (1990) The relative influence of physical fitness, acclimation state, anthropometric measures and sex on individual reactions to heat stress. Eur J Appl Physiol 61:419–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Havenith G, Luttikholt VGM, Vrijkotte TGM (1995) The relative influence of body characteristics on humid heat stress response. Eur J Appl Physiol 70:270–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Havenith G, Fogarty A, Bartlett R, Smith C, Ventenat V (2007) Upper body sweat distribution during and after a 60 minute training run in male and female runners. In: Mekjavic IB, Kounalakis SN, Taylor NAS (Eds). Environmental ergonomics XII. Biomed d.o.o., Ljubljana, pp 270–271. ISBN: 978-961-90545-1-2Google Scholar
  22. Hertzman AB (1957) Individual differences in regional sweating. J Appl Physiol 10:242–248PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Inoue Y, Nakao M, Araki T, Murakami H (1991) Regional differences in the sweating responses of older and younger men. J Appl Physiol 71:2453–2459PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Inoue Y, Havenith G, Kenney WL, Loomis JL, Buskirk ER (1999) Exercise- and methylcholine-induced sweating responses in older and younger men: effect of heat acclimation and aerobic fitness. Int J Biomet 42(4):210–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Inoue Y, Tanaka Y, Omori K, Kuwahara T, Ogura Y, Ueda H (2005) Sex- and menstrual cycle-related differences in sweating and cutaneous blood flow in response to passive heat exposure. Eur J Appl Physiol 94:323–332PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. ISO 9920 (2007) Ergonomics of the thermal environment. Estimation of the thermal insulation and evaporative resistance of a clothing ensemble, International Standardisation Organisation, Geneva 2003Google Scholar
  27. Jablonski NG (2006) Skin, a natural history. University Press of California, Columbia And Princeton (US). ISBN: 9780520242814Google Scholar
  28. Kawahata A (1960) Sex differences in sweating. Essential Problems in climatic physiology. In: Ito S et al (eds) Nankodo Publisher, Kyoto, pp 169–184Google Scholar
  29. Kenney WL (1985) A review of comparative responses of men and women to heat stress. Environ Res 37:1–11PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kenney WL, Fowler SR (1988) Methylcholine-activated eccrine sweat gland density and output as a function of age. J Appl Physiol 65(3):1082–1086PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Knip A (1969) Measurement and regional distribution of functioning eccrine sweat glands in male and female Caucasians. Hum Biol 41(3):380–387PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Kondo N, Takano S, Aoki K, Shibasaki M, Tominaga H, Inoue Y (1998) Regional differences in the effect of exercise intensity on thermoregulatory sweating and cutaneous vasodilation. Acta Physiol Scand 164:71–78PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kondo N, Tominaga H, Shibasaki M (2000) Effects of exercise intensity on the sweating response to a sustained static exercise. J Appl Physiol 88(5):1590—1596PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Kuno Y (1956) Human perspiration. Charles C Thomas Publ., SpringfieldGoogle Scholar
  35. Machado-Moreira CA, Smith FM, van den Heuvel AMJ, Mekjavic IB, Taylor NAS (2008a) Sweat secretion from the torso during passively-induce and exercise-related hyperthermia. Eur J Appl Physiol (in press)Google Scholar
  36. Machado-Moreira CA, Wilmink F, Meijer A, Mekjavic IB, Taylor NAS (2008b) Local differences in sweat secretion from the head during rest and exercise in the heat. Eur J Appl Physiol (in press)Google Scholar
  37. Nadel ER, Stolwijk JAJ (1973) Effect of skin wettedness on sweat gland response. J Appl Physiol 35(5):689–694PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Nadel ER, Bullard RW, Stolwijk JAJ (1971) Importance of skin temperature in the regulation of sweating. J Appl Physiol 31(1):80–87PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Ogawa T, Asayama M (1986) Quantitative analysis of the local effect of skin temperature on sweating. Jpn J Physiol 36:417–422PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Park SA, Tamura T (1992) Distribution of evaporation rate on human body surface. Ann Physiol Anthropol 11:593–609PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Perneger TV (1998) What’s wrong with Bonferroni adjustments. BMJ 316:1236–1238PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Randall WC (1946) Quantitation and regional distribution of sweat glands in man. J Clin Invest 25:761–767PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Smith C, Ventenat V, Havenith G (2007) Regional sweat rates of the arms and hands in male squash players. In: Mekjavic IB, Kounalakis SN, Taylor NAS (eds) Environmental ergonomics XII. Biomed d.o.o., Ljubljana. ISBN: 978-961-90545-1-2Google Scholar
  44. Sodeman WA, Burch GE (1944) Regional variations in water loss from the skin of diseased subjects living in a subtropical climate. J Clin Invest 23(1):37–43PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Taylor NAS, Caldwell JN, Mekjavic IB (2006) The sweating foot: local differences in sweat secretion during exercise-induced hyperthermia. Aviat Space Environ Med 77(10):1020–1027PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Van Beaumont W, Bullard RW (1965) Sweating: direct influence of skin temperature. Science 147:1465–1467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Verde T, Shephard RJ, Corey P, Moore R (1982) Sweat composition in exercise and in heat. J Appl Physiol 53(6):1540–1545PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Weiner JS (1945) The regional distribution of sweating. J Physiol 104:32–40PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Wyndham CH, Morrison JF, Williams CG (1965) Heat reactions of male and female Caucasians. J Appl Physiol 20(3):357–364Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Havenith
    • 1
  • Alison Fogarty
    • 1
  • Rebecca Bartlett
    • 1
  • Caroline J. Smith
    • 1
  • Vincent Ventenat
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human SciencesLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  2. 2.Centre de Recherche DECATHLONVilleneuve d’AsqFrance

Personalised recommendations