Experimental Physiology –Research Paper: Sex differences in the effects of physical training on sweat gland responses during a graded exercise


Corresponding author Y. Inoue: Laboratory for Human Performance Research, Osaka International University, 6-21-57 Tohda-Cho, Moriguchi, Osaka 570-8555, Japan. Email: inoueyos@hus.oiu.ac.jp


We assessed sex differences in the sweat gland response to changes in exercise intensity with respect to subjects’ physical training status. In total, 37 subjects participated (10 trained and 10 untrained females, and 8 trained and 9 untrained males). Each subject cycled continuously at 35, 50 and 65% of their maximal O2 uptake ( inline image) for 60 min at an ambient temperature of 30°C and a relative humidity of 45%. The mean local sweating rate (SR) on the forehead, chest, back, forearm and thigh was significantly greater in the trained subjects than in the untrained subjects of both sexes. The degree of the increase in SR with physical training was greater in males than in females at higher levels of exercise intensity. This increase in SR depended primarily on an increase in the sweat output per gland (SGO) in both sexes. However, control of the SR increase with increasing exercise intensity was altered by training in females, i.e. the increase in SR from exercise at 50 to 65% inline image depended only on an increase in SGO in trained females and males and untrained males, but it depended on increases in activated sweat glands and the SGO in untrained females. It was concluded that training improved the sweating response, and a sex difference was observed in the degree of improvement in the sweating response due to physical training. This sex difference became more pronounced with increasing exercise intensity. A sex difference was observed in the control of sweating rate to an increase in exercise intensity, i.e. the maximal activated sweat gland responses of untrained females required a higher body temperature or work intensity than the other groups.