Are You Getting A Good Workout If You're Not Sweating?

We consult fitness expert, Sam Wood.

Image: iStock

There’s a bit of a misconception that the fitter that you get, the less you sweat. It really isn’t the case. There are a number of contributing factors to how and why we sweat and there is no perfect science. As it is something I get asked about so often, I thought I’d shed some light on the subject.

Let’s start with a basic understanding of what it means when we sweat.  Sweating is our bodies way of cooling itself down. It’s a process called thermoregulation, where your brain sends a message to your glands to release sweat. When this fluid (made up of water, salts and proteins) evaporates from our skin, our body temperature lowers. When we exercise our body temperature increases, triggering our sweat response. There are a number of reasons why some people sweat more than others, such as:

Body fat percentage

People with a higher body fat tend to sweat more. This is because higher body fat producers more heat.

The number of sweat glands we have

Everyone has a different number of sweat glands (somewhere from 2 to 4 million)

Intensity of workout

A hardcore HIIT session will likely have you sweating up a storm in comparison to a lower intensity stretch-based workout or walk.

hiit workout
Image: iStock

Workout environment

If you are on a stationary bike where your sweat can’t get absorbed into the air like it would on an outside bike ride, it will feel like you are sweating a lot more. If you are doing bikram yoga, where you are not only staying in one spot but in a heated room, yes you will sweat a lot and it will feel like a lot.

Gender and genetics

Women are born with more sweat glands than men. However, men sweat more because their glands are more active.

How fit you are

Research suggests that as you get fitter, you sweat more in your workouts. This is because your body becomes more efficient at regulating temperature, cooling you down faster and therefore allowing you to keep your work rate high.

Not every workout needs to be a heart pumping, lung busting, sweat dripping session. Moving your body is about so much more than just sweat. A good, effective workout doesn’t have to involve intense perspiration but it should be challenging.
Another way to know where you have a good workout is to ask yourself if the objective of the workout was achieved. Did you achieve what you set out to with that session? If the answer is yes, it was a good workout. Take strength training for example. People might not necessarily sweat a lot during a strength based workout in comparison to cardio however this doesn’t mean it was any less effective. The key is that you move your body every day, make some days harder than others and keep it consistent.
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