For some, sweat is a big motivator. They LOVE to sweat.
Others HATE to sweat (passionately). It can be a major barrier for exercise.
Let’s sort the myths from the facts:
- Sweat is one way the body cools itself. When sweat evaporates from the skin, it has a cooling effect
- The amount of sweat we feel with physical activity depends on how much we sweat PLUS how fast it evaporates from the skin
- Sweat rate and evaporation rate has to do with several factors:
- temperature of the environment
- humidity of the air – more humid, sweat does not evaporate as easily so it seems we are sweating more
- other environmental factors such as wind and sunshine
- genetics, hydration level, and clothing all effect sweat level too
- Sweat is a good tool for knowing how much to re-hydrate after physical activity. Weigh yourself before and after exercise. For every pound lost, replace it with 16 to 20 ounces of fluid (water is generally best unless sweating has been excessive). If you would like more detailed information about fluid replacement, check out the American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand.
- After weight loss surgery it is vital to monitor fluid loss and replace. Stay hydrated by drinking small amounts of water during the day and weigh yourself before and after exercise to ensure you replace fluids lost.
- “exercise until you work up a sweat”. Truth is too many factors affect sweating for it to be a reliable way to measure the quality of an exercise session. Lets take biking for example. Biking outside at a moderate to somewhat heavy intensity level but not noticing any sweat, you might think you are not getting enough exercise using sweat as an indicator. In a spin class on a humid day, exercising at the same intensity level with sweat dripping off you and you think what a great workout!. Outside you probably sweat less because the temperature was cooler, and any sweat evaporated quickly in the drier air. The exercise level was the same though – so the quality of the workout is the same regardless of the level of sweat.
- ” sweat means more calorie/fat burning” Truth is sweat does not mean fat is melting off the body! Although it seems like it should be truth – this is a big myth! Since “sweat suits” are still sold in many stores, I will repeat this – Sweat does not melt fat! It is time we let this myth go once and for all!
Using breathing level to monitor exercise intensity is a much more reliable tool. Moderate to somewhat heavy breathing level is the goal. At this level exercise feels comfortable or a comfortable challenge. This level ensures you are burning as many calories as you can, at a level that improves fitness without increasing the risk of injury.
Check out these images to the left that popped up when I searched for Sweat images.
Lets abandon these myths and focus on what really matters.
So, enjoy sweating if you love it. Just don’t make yourself sweat more than needed.
If you hate to sweat, exercise in a cooler environment, dress cool, choose activities where you can stay cooler, and keep a fan on you if you are indoors.
Keep Moving, Be Well,
These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.