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Fit for Life: Your Skin (Seaford Star)

In the past few weeks the weather has been warm, cool, warm and then cool again. Fitness trainers notice the changes in weather because we’re moving a lot with our jobs and sweating. My customers know that I keep a small sweat towel in my pocket to be ready when my body starts its cooling mechanism on those warm, humid days. I love the cool, dry days when I don’t need to use that sweat towel as much.

I’m glad my body can cool itself by sweating through the skin. Speaking of skin, have you ever thought about your skin? I’m sure you have in the pretty way of making sure it’s clean, without pimples or bumps, and your make up looks good.

Did you know your skin is the largest system and external organ of the body? Its medical name is the integumentary system and it’s made up of skin, hair, nails, sebaceous glands (oil glands), and sweat glands (Springhouse 2002). Our skin protects us from the outside world (bacteria), eliminates waste products (sweating it out for example), regulates our body temperature and helps us keep our body fluids inside. Here’s some more interesting facts about our skin.

The skin is a multi-layer and dynamic (moving) organ and makes up 15-20% of our total body weight. If the skin was laid out flat, it would cover a surface of 1.5-2 meters or five to six feet (Hamm 2015). In the span of one year, we can shed over eight pounds of dead skin (Smith, 2015).

Have you ever had goose bumps? Small muscles called arrector pili extend from the skin and attach to the hair follicle and contract in response to touch, emotion and temperature changes (Smith 2015). It’s fascinating to think about all the tiny muscles in the body. When exercising, most people just think of the major muscles like the biceps, triceps, quads and hamstrings.

There are two types of sweat glands in our body, the apocrine gland and the eccrine gland. Eccrine glands cover most of our body and apocrine glands are only in our armpits and genital areas. Each of us has a unique sweat blend of 373 compounds (Festa 2015).

Our bodies are amazing machines when you think of all the body systems working together. Take care of your integumentary system and keep it healthy and fit. Here’s to your great skin!

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the November 23, 2017 edition of the Seaford Star.