Excessive sweating during exercise - is it a sign of being unfit? - Emily Skye

Excessive sweating during exercise - is it a sign of being unfit?

Excessive sweating during exercise - is it a sign of being unfit?

I frequently have people asking me about how much they sweat compared to other people they know, and what I think is a ‘healthy’ amount to be sweating. So I thought I would write a blog post that looks at the different reasons we sweat, and just why some people might sweat more than others.

Firstly, as I am sure you are aware, sweating is a completely natural process that allows the body to help regulate its internal temperature. Sweat is produced by special glands in the skin in order to help cool the body down. When the temperature is hot, or during times of exercise, these sweat glands jump into action and secrete sweat, which when in contact with the air, helps to cool the body down. Without this temperature regulation system, your major organs, including your brain, would overheat and stop functioning. So, sweating is actually essential for your survival!

Sometimes emotions, such as fear, or illness can also affect the sweat glands, however for the purpose of this blog, let us just consider sweating in relation to exercise!

When we exercise, we are challenging the body to work through movement which generates heat. This heat causes us to sweat to help cool the body down and regulate our temperature. Though some people just seem to sweat a whole lot more than others.

Why? Well in truth the answer is no longer black or white.

We used to believe that there were two main factors that contributed to how much you sweat:

  • Body fat percentage - The higher your body fat, the more insulation you have so the quicker you will warm up.
  • Aerobic fitness - The belief is that the fitter you are, the less you sweat.

Though these have been brought into question lately, with several studies conducted in Canada and Australia (the findings of which were published in The Journal Of Applied Physiology) which instead looks at the overall weight of a person, in relation to how much weight they have to carry around. These findings looked at how a shorter statured person who carried more weight, compared to a larger statured person with less body fat, would sweat at a similar rate.

So the bottom line? There is no ‘correct’ amount that any one person should sweat because there are too many variables to take into consideration. So don’t sweat it (excuse the pun!), if you are sweating a lot then you are working hard and your body will reap the rewards! Though on that same note, if you know you are working hard, but don’t seem to be sweating all that much, there is no real cause for concern as we are all different! 

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