What a sweaty workout actually means

WHAT A SWEATY WORKOUT ACTUALLY MEANS

You’re at the gym running on a treadmill and can’t help but notice that you’re dripping in sweat, constantly wiping your face off, but the person next to you isn’t even glistening a drop of moisture. Because you’ve probably been in a scenario like this more than once, you might beg the questions: Does sweating more mean a better workout? If I sweat a lot when I work out, does that mean I’m out of shape? If I don’t sweat enough, does that mean I’m not trying hard enough? What does this all mean?

According to Daily Burn, we automatically think that more sweat equals how many calories we’ve burned. Not to burst your bubble, but if you are that person on the treadmill dripping in sweat, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a better workout compared to the person running next to you. In other words, calories burned does not directly correlate with the amount you sweat because there are too many factors that play into why our bodies do what they do when we work out. Here are some of the factors that can explain that.

BODY TYPE

Whether you’re at a healthy weight or you’re overweight, both body types will sweat on some level during exercise because when the body gets too hot, it naturally produces sweat to cool itself off. According to POP Sugar, someone who is overweight will most likely sweat more because more body fat generates more heat. So, on some level, yes, if someone is out of shape, they are more likely to produce more sweat when they are physically active, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their workouts are “better” or “worse.” POP Sugar also says that fit people actually sweat more at the beginning of workouts because their bodies are quicker at adjusting to the amount of heat generated, which allows for a faster cool-down.

ENVIRONMENT

Have you ever noticed when it’s really humid somewhere that you’re sweating a lot more? Or you might be working out in your gym and after a while, you feel really hot and notice how much you’re sweating, and then realize the fans or air conditioning aren’t turned on? That’s not a coincidence. That’s because your body is cooling itself down because the environment is too hot.

This is the same reason as to why you might see more runners outside early in the morning and in the evening because it’s cooler out. They’ll still break a sweat because running will raise their body temperatures, but it’s much more comfortable to work out where it’s cooler, and most likely, those people aren’t sweating as much compared to if they were running during a time when the sun is blasting. So next time you’re at the gym, don’t be fooled by how much you’re sweating–simply focus on doing a solid workout, no matter how much your body perspires.

THE TWO G’s– GENDER AND GENETICS 

Some people just sweat more–plain and simple, and that can be because of family history, or because someone has more sweat glands. For instance, CNN says that younger people typically sweat more than older people. According to POP Sugar, we are born with between two and four million sweat glands. Women have more sweat glands than men, but men’s sweat glands are more active than women’s. Even if you’re a woman and you sweat a lot when you work out, don’t be alarmed. It could be because of family history or because you just have more active sweat glands. Unless you sweat a lot while at rest, there’s nothing to worry about.

WHAT YOU’RE WEARING

This is why you don’t wear a winter coat while you’re lifting weights. POP Sugar says to refrain from wearing synthetic fabrics because they trap in more heat and will generate more sweat. According to CNN, if you wear heavy cotton shirts, you’ll likely notice that sweat stains will linger as opposed to if you are wearing more breathable fabric, because your sweat gets trapped and doesn’t evaporate as quickly. Again, if you notice your t-shirt is drenched, don’t just assume your workout is “better,” because it could also just be what you’re wearing.

HOW YOU’RE FEELING

Have you ever gone to the gym to “work off some steam,” and you actually noticed more steam coming out of you? Ironically enough, whether you’re angry, stressed or nervous, all of those emotions can generate sweat because they raise your heart rate and trigger a rush of hormones, causing your body to heat up. If you’re also new to your gym and are feeling a little intimidated by it, you might sweat more because of the fact that you’re nervous.

HYDRATION

Hydration is surprisingly something that we often misinterpret when it comes to our sweat rates. Most people know to bring a water bottle to the gym with them because they need to stay hydrated, but if you drank a whole bottle of water before hitting the gym, you’re probably going to sweat more due to the higher amount of fluids in your system. Going back to our main point, you could be doing moderate exercise and sweating more, merely because of the fact that you’re more hydrated than usual.

People also mix up water weight when it comes to weight loss. In this case especially, sweat is not your “fat crying.” Most of it is actually all of the water you drank being released. After an intense workout, you’re most likely extra sweaty because you pushed yourself really hard, but you probably also drank a lot of water during that time to balance the two out. You may have also stepped on a scale after that and saw that the number decreased, thinking you lost weight, when in fact, you just lost water and that’s exactly why the number on the scale is always fluctuating by a couple of pounds, because we are always losing and gaining water.

IN CONCLUSION 

The ultimate misconception with a little or a lot of sweat is weight loss. It seems like common sense to assume that the more you sweat, the more weight you’re losing, but that is actually false. Because we associate sweat with exercise, we also assume that sweat is how “weight” leaves the body during the weight-loss process. To get down to it, weight loss is different than fat loss.

According to POP Sugar, weight loss is the actual number on the scale that went down, which could be a result of many things, like water loss for instance. Fat loss is how much body fat we lose. Even though someone who is overweight may sweat more, it doesn’t mean they are dropping fat. Some of that fat loss is released in the form of sweat, but the majority of it is actually breathed out, according to the Huffington Post.

Because of the idea, “energy in, energy out,” we have the misconception that fat and weight is expelled through sweat when the majority of it actually goes into thin air. When you think of burning calories, you’re not burning calories through your sweat. That fat and those calories are being converted into carbon dioxide as they exit your body. That’s also another huge reason why we refer to the experience of weight loss as a “journey,” because it doesn’t happen overnight due to how much carbon dioxide we have to exert in order to lose those extra pounds.

Resources

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Does-Sweating-Mean-Youre-Burning-More-Calories-1655873

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Why-Some-People-Sweat-More-Than-Others-145870

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/07/25/what-happens-to-fat-when-you-lose-weight_a_23046347/

https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/13/health/sweating-workout-fitness-exercise-davis/index.html