Sweat samples were collected from the forearms of eight male volunteers using light gauze pads applied for 20-min periods. Preliminary trials indicated that this technique yielded realistic figures for both sweat volume and sweat composition. Tests were conducted under three conditions: a) outdoor exercise, cool environment; b) indoor exercise, normal room temperatures; and c) sauna exposure. In all environments, proximal forearm samples indicated a larger sweat secretion than distal forearm or hand samples. [Mg2+] decreased as sweat flow increased, but after allowance for interindividual differences of sweat volume, [Na+], [K+], [Ca2+], and [Cl-] were independent of sweat flow rates. The differential effect of sweat flow suggests active regulation rather than contamination. Interindividual differences of sweat composition could not be explained in terms of differences in personal fitness. Sauna bathing yielded sweat with a higher [Mg2+] and [Ca2+] content than did exercise; however, [Na+], [K+], and [Cl-] were similar for the three experimental conditions. Again, the data are best explained in terms of an active regulation of sweat composition. Total ionic losses do not seem sufficient to deplete body mineral reserves unless many days of training are undertaken in a hot climate.
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