Exercising and Sweating: Stop Believing the Myths
Exercising and sweating go hand in hand. During physical activity, your entire body goes into action: muscle contractions multiply and significantly work your metabolism while producing heat. In response, your body triggers sweating to regulate your body temperature. But, is sweating a telltale sign of an effective workout? Here are the answers.
Sweating, also known as perspiration, plays an important role in regulating your body temperature when you’re in a hot environment or when you exercise. During physical activity, many muscle contractions activate the sweat glands. They produce sweat, which then evaporates from the surface of your skin. This evaporation is what cools your body down and helps regulate your body temperature. So, during intense physical activity or in extreme weather conditions, you can lose up to three liters an hour. That’s why staying hydrated is a must to make up for the loss of fluid and to prevent dehydration.
What’s sweat made of?
Sweat is mostly made of water and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and sodium, which gives it a salty taste. It’s worth noting that sweat is secreted by two types of sweat glands: eccrine sweat glands and apocrine sweat glands, which means that there are two types of sweat.
Eccrine sweat glands: These are located all over in the epidermis of the skin and produce sweat that’s low in sodium and composed of 99% water and doesn’t cause any unpleasant odors. These glands are used during physical exertion and help regulate your body temperature.
Apocrine sweat glands: These are located in hairier areas of the body, such as the armpits, head and groin, and secrete “denser” sweat that’s higher in protein and sebum. Sebum attracts bacteria, which causes unpleasant odors. The apocrine sweat glands also produce cold sweat, which is mainly triggered by emotional stress.
What’s the connection between exercising and sweating?
The human body doesn’t do things by accident; every response and every mechanism can have many explanations and purposes. The same goes for sweating. On that note, common preconceptions die hard; sweating isn’t exactly what you think it is… Here are some clarifications that will tell you what’s true and what’s false!
1 | I’m Sweating Because I’m Hot
TRUE! Sweating is one of the thermoregulatory mechanisms of the human body. It’s triggered in response to an increase in your body temperature, often due to physical activity, but also to certain weather conditions and stress. In the case of physical activity, athletes release large amounts of heat, especially because of muscle activity. Sweating is an effective way to cool you off and keep your body temperature around 98.6°F (37°C).
Julien, the FizzUp trainer says: Sweating is your ally while exercising; it keeps you from “overheating” or experiencing exercise-induced hyperthermia.
2 | I’m sweating, so my workout must be intense
PARTIALLY TRUE! Sweating is one of the indicators that can help you tell how intense your workout is. But it’s far from being the most reliable. Your heart rate or your perception of the effort you’re putting into the workout are much more accurate indicators. What’s more, weather conditions can have an influence on whether or not you start sweating. You actually won’t sweat the same way when you do a workout at 50°F (10°C) versus a workout that you do at 86°F (30°C), even if the intensity of each workout is the same.
Julien, the FizzUp trainer says: Rather than looking at how much you sweat, focus on the signals your brain and muscles send to decide whether or not you had an effective workout.
3 | I’m sweating, so I must be losing weight
FALSE! Or at least, it’s not actual and long-term weight loss. Your sweat isn’t made up of fat cells at all, and sweating never helps you melt fat. When you sweat a lot, you do lose weight, but it’s only temporary. This means that you’re losing water weight. Sadly, the more water you lose, the less effective your physical performance is. That’s why significant dehydration, approximately 4% of your body weight (2.8 liters for an athlete weighing 155 lb/70kg, for example), reduces your athletic performance by about 40% and increases the risk of injury or accidents.
Julien, the FizzUp trainer says: To prevent dehydration and poor athletic performance, take sips of water throughout your workout, whether you’re thirsty or not.
4 | I’m sweating, so I must be hydrating my skin
TRUE! Sweating is a great way to eliminate the impurities that build up on your skin and clears them from your pores while also removing dead skin cells. Sweating also keeps your cell tissue hydrated because it strengthens the hydrolipid film. This film covers the entire surface of the epidermis and acts as a barrier against outside bacteria.
Julien, the FizzUp trainer says: Thanks to sweating, your skin stays hydrated, clearer and smoother, which also makes it more supple and radiant. But be careful, sweating too much can cause irritation. Fortunately, with the changes that have been made to sports clothing, it’s easy to find technical and breathable clothing that evacuates sweat faster and helps you prevent irritation.
5 | I’m sweating, so I must be eliminating towins from my body
TRUE! Just like your kidneys, your skin is an amazing organ that drains and detoxifies. Toxins like dead skin cells and lactic acid are produced inside your body or are absorbed from substances such as tobacco, pesticides or heavy metals. When you open the pores in your skin as you sweat, you evacuate a significant amount of waste without even knowing it.
Julien, the FizzUp trainer says: Because sweating is good for your health, why not treat yourself to some time in a sauna or steam room during one of your rest days? It’s a good way to relax and maintain your health at the same time.
But, is sweating the sign of an effective workout?
NO! Although it has many benefits, whether or not you sweat a lot during a workout is never a way to tell if the workout was effective. Too many factors can trigger sweating. Extremely hot weather conditions or high humidity in the air can cause you to sweat more without your workout being any more effective. What’s more, everyone sweats differently, depending on their sex, how many sweat glands they have and their body fat percentage. If you never sweat during your workout and don’t feel your muscles working, that still shows that you won’t get the results you’re hoping for.
To make sure that your workouts are effective, rely on the knowledge of your FizzUp online fitness trainer. Get your workout program that’s 100% personalized and adapted to suit your personal goals. When you follow a workout program on a regular basis, apply yourself and give it enough intensity, you’ll reach your goals, whether you sweat a lot or not!