I want to keep this post simple.
I am an excessive sweater. I breathe and I sweat. I turn my head and I sweat. This may be an exaggeration! But one of my favorite lines, “I come from a family of sweaters – not the knitted kind.” Because I am an excessive sweater, I often wonder why others do not sweat. A few facts about sweat:
- Our sweat threshold changes naturally with age.
- Sweat rates have a hereditary influence (hence, I come from a family of sweaters).
- The more fit you are, the more you will sweat.
- Men sweat more than woman.
Purpose of sweat
Sweat is a means by which our body cools itself and keeps itself from overheating – or thermoregulation. This is why you tend to sweat more when the outside temperature is warmer.
Because sweat thresholds are highly individual, sweat is NOT a good indicator of a good workout. Some people will sweat more than others – simply due to difference in internal temperatures, genetics, physiological responses, or metabolic rates.
Sweat and exercise
For most of us, sweating is one of the major decisive factors that make us feel that we have worked hard and achieved the day’s fitness goals. And it is true, sweating is one of the major determinants of increased fitness levels. But is is indicative of a good workout?
Take me as an example. Again, I sweat a lot. I have been known to look like I just came out of the shower following an intense workout. At the same time, I sweat VERY little when I working on hypertrophy (muscle building) or absolute strength. If I measured the quality of these workouts based on my sweat rate, I would have to assume that these workouts were ineffective. In comparison, ask me to run and I begin sweating within minutes. My body is cooling itself off. My body is effectively and efficiently doing its job!
You might ask, what if I rarely sweat – should I be concerned? You should be honest with yourself during exercise and ask if you are working with enough intensity. If so, great! If you do not exhibit any other symptoms of dehydration, I would not worry.
NOTE: If you are typically a sweater and you find that you are not, this could be a sign of dehydration! Drink more water.
When the water in sweat evaporates on your skin, it cools down your body, which is the whole purpose of sweat—to prevent overheating. Athletes sweat more than the average person because their bodies have become efficient at keeping cool by increasing the amount they sweat. Research has found that the core body temperature in unfit women, who perspired the least, had to rise significantly more for them to sweat at maximum capacity.
The fitter you are = the more you will sweat.
Changes in sweat rate
As previously mentioned, it is normal to see changes in sweat rates. For example, children do not sweat much until puberty – when you may see a huge increase in sweat. Further, pregnant women may sweat more, as do some women going through menopause. What do all of these individuals have in common? Hormone shifts. Similarly, changes in fitness levels coexist with changes in hormones (weight management is actual controlled at the hormonal level). Changes in sweat rates are perfectly normal and should honestly be anticipated.
Ever notice that you sweat more the night after eating out or a night with adult beverages? Your body is cleansing itself of toxins! A less pronounced purpose to sweating is to help shed the body of waste that occurs as a natural byproduct of cell metabolism. There is some truth to the saying, “sweating is out.”
Not everyone will sweat excessively. For those of us who do, we may be jealous of those who do not – and vice versa. But do not use the occurrence of sweat – nor lack there of – to judge the quality of your workout.
Lastly, I know many individuals despise sweat and I encourage you to embrace sweat. Sweat is healthy. AND – sweat is sexy because sweat makes sexy people!