Friday, July 22, 2016

Hot Weather, Sweat, and Cotton Clothing

We are in the midst of a heat wave at this little place here.  Temperatures hitting--and exceeding-- the 90 degree mark, and humidity is pretty high  too.  On the radio and on the TV, they are telling people to "stay inside" and that 'cooling stations'--aka places with air conditioning--are open.

What am I doing?  Well, life as usual, pretty much.  Got animals to take care of at this little place here, hauling extra water to them as they drink it faster than normal.  Still have to go to work at the horse farms, clean stalls, and take care of the horses.  Still have household chores and garden chores to do at home.  And my house doesn't have AC.  So right now it's registering an indoor temperature of 88 degrees.  (But there's a nice breeze flowing through from the living room windows, across the length of the house and out the dining room window, taking the hot still air out with it)

There are a few changes as I go about my day:

  • I'm packing water with me everywhere I go.  
  • I'm keeping fruit in stock and making sure I snack on that ( because fruit is mostly water, and fiber too).  
  • I know that my appetite tanks when it's hot, so I'm making sure that I remember to eat, and that I eat things with protein, not just grabbing carbs and eating junk food.  
  • I'm wearing cotton clothing as much as possible.
  • I'm riding my horse in the mornings as early as I can (after finishing the morning chores at the boarding barn I work at, and before starting stall cleaning at the dressage farm where I am keeping the Quarter Horse).
Most of the above items probably make sense as you read them, with no explanation necessary.  But the cotton clothing one, well, I'm amazed at how many people I run into who don't know why I wear cotton in the heat.  Which means they usually aren't wearing cotton, and aren't fairing this hot spell as well as they could be.

Cotton breathes.  It lets air in, and doesn't hold heat next to your skin.  Cotton is also very absorbent.  When I sweat, and I am in no way adverse to sweating, (in fact, I do not wear antiperspirant, only deodorant, because I believe all parts of the body need to be able to sweat when called for,) my cotton shirt absorbs that sweat. 

Absorbs it until the shirt is soaking wet (as evidenced by the photo below, which I took at 9:30 this morning, after just a 30 minute pretty low-key ride on the Quarter Horse).  And then that wet shirt does a lovely thing called evaporative cooling, actually keeping me cooler than if I changed out of it and wore a dry shirt, or a non-cotton shirt that did not absorb and hold moisture (as in, sweat).

Evaporative cooling is very simple.  As a liquid evaporates from a solid surface it removes heat during the process of going from a liquid to a gas (um, evaporating), and the temperature of that solid surface is then lowered.

That is the reason why our bodies were designed to sweat.  The heated body secretes liquid (sweat) from it's pores, the liquid (sweat) evaporates, and in doing so lowers the ambient temperature of the body.  If we keep ourselves from sweating, our internal body temperature will continue to rise, rather than be able to stabilize itself.  If we wear clothing that keeps us dry, we will not have the evaporative process cooling our skin.  Which will also make us continue to feel hotter and hotter.

So, when it's hot outside, sweat!  And make sure you wear cotton so that it can soak up all that lovely sweat and become a natural air conditioner.  You'll be able to stay cooler, and still productive in the heat.

And in case you are wondering, no I don't stink.  Just because I don't wear antiperspirant, and I let myself sweat, I don't smell.  I don't smell flowery or perfumey or baby powdery or whatever scent your antiperpirant is laden with to mask body odor.  I might smell like whatever environment I've been in, like sawdust if I've been bedding stalls, or horse if I've been riding, or tomato plants if I've been brushing up against them weeding the garden, but I don't stink as in third world county never heard of deodorant and can't access fresh water very often kind of funk.  A daily rinse off in hot weather and a fresh layer of deodorant in the mornings keeps me non-offensive.  ;0)

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