We all know that tattoos are permanent, but most people don’t give a second thought to how this is possible. Clearly the tattoo physically alters the appearance of our skin (or, if you want to be technical about it, it embeds a material in the skin), but you might be surprised to learn that your tattoos could affect your workout routine.
The Effect on the Skin
According to a study carried out last year, tattoos affect the skin’s ability to sweat. In particular, it alters the salinity (saltiness), and the amount of sweat that’s produced following exercise. These findings could have implications for those with extensive tattoos over their bodies, but the study’s authors also state that those with more subtle and discrete tattoos should also be aware of the effect.
There are a variety of reasons that people choose to get tattooed. In some cases, people are only seeking a single, decorative tattoo to commemorate something significant in their lives. For these people, while it is worth being aware of the effect, especially if you plan on getting more tattoos, it is unlikely to seriously affect your workout.
On the other hand, those with extensive body tattoos should be aware that their ability to sweat, and the effect of sweating on their body, will both be affected by that tattoo.
Note that the effect should not deter you from working out or pursuing sports, so don’t hold off buying those Riedell figure skates just because of this news!
How it Works
In tattooing a person’s skin, the artist uses a specialized tool which punctures the skin at a rate as fast as 3,000 times every minute. Each time the skin is penetrated, the needle injects a dye into the dermal layer of the skin; this is the layer of skin that also contains the sweat glands.
By depositing dyes into this layer of skin, tattoos reduce the ability of the skin to sweat properly. Not only do tattoos reduce the amount of sweat that the skin is able to produce, they also affect the release of electrolytes, another important component of sweating.
Sweating is an important process for cooling our bodies when necessary. Whether it’s an intense workout, a crowded subway train, even just a hot day, when our bodies get hot, we cool ourselves down by sweating.
Tattoos have long been popular with athletes. But until now, no one has assessed whether tattoos might affect the ability of our skin to cool us down. Now, these researchers believe they have evidence of at least one permanent change to the skin following tattooing.
Will it Affect My Workout?
In short, no. Unless you are literally covered in tattoos, the inhibition of sweating shouldn’t be dangerous. Those competing in the most intense sports, in the hottest conditions, with extensive tattoos over their bodies, should take some extra precautions. But for the average person, there’s nothing to worry about.
So, there you have it! Your tattoo shouldn’t stop you from working out and being active, but they do have a permanent effect on your skin.