The sweating foot: Local differences in sweat secretion during exercise-induced hyperthermia

Nigel A S Taylor, Joanne N. Caldwell, Igor B. Mekjavic

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Introduction: Little is known regarding local differences in foot sweat secretion. Since such information is important to our understanding of sweat gland control for thermoregulatory modeling and for the design of footwear we explored this topic. Methods: Local sweat rates were investigated across core temperatures from 37-39°C, achieved using endogenous (cycling) and exogenous heat (water-perfusion garment: 46°C). Six healthy adults (three men, three women) performed one-legged, incremental cycling in a heated, climate-controlled chamber (36°C, 60% relative humidity). Sweat rates were measured at the forehead and stationary (left) foot (capsules 3.16 cm2): three dorsal sites (base of toes, second metatarsal, and mid point), the lateral, and the central plantar surfaces. Results: Terminal core temperatures ranged between 38.3-39.1°C, with peak heart rates of 155-187 bpm. Most foot sweat rates were < 50% of that observed at the forehead: dorsal 1 (38%); dorsal 2 (54%); dorsal 3 (37%); lateral (24%); and plantar surfaces (18%). When averaged across the trial, local sweat rates were: 2.61 (forehead); 0.98 (dorsal 1); 1.39 (dorsal 2); 0.95 (dorsal 3); 0.62 (lateral); and 0.47 mg · cm -2 · min-1 (plantar). Conclusion: Two key observations emerged. First, sweat secretion from the experimental foot averaged 30 ml · h-1, peaking in the last 5 min at 50 ml · h-1. Second, approximately 70% of the measured sweat flow emanated from the upper skin surfaces, with only 30% coming from the plantar surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1027
Number of pages8
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Clothing
  • Footwear
  • Regional sweating
  • Sudomotor
  • Thermoregulation

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