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Are you sweating away calories?
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Are you sweating away calories?

One of my goals is to try to break a sweat everyday.

It could just be a walk up the hill outside my house, or 200 lunges. As long as I get a little sweaty, or feel sore after a small workout, I can feel like I am staying active.

For others, level of sweat and soreness is an indicator of how hard they worked during exercise.

The bad news is that sweating a lot does not always mean you burned more calories.

Here's why…

Many Factors Involved in Sweating

  • Weather:  Humid weather makes us sweat more. So, in the summertime, this does not mean we are burning more calories. It simply means our bodies are working harder to cool us down.

In the humid weather, the air moisture makes it harder for sweat to evaporate from our bodies. This is why we begin to feel saturated with sweat and moisture when it is so humid—it can't evaporate! It doesn't mean we burned more calories.

  • Medical Conditions:  Some have medical conditions, or their genetics cause them to sweat more than others. The hotter we get, the more important it becomes for our bodies to cool itself. Also, men sweat more than women!

Menopause, pregnancy, thyroid imbalances, diabetes, alcoholism, heart disease, cancer, obesity, taking antidepressants, or zinc supplements may cause excess sweating.

  • Fitness : After doing an aerobic or strength activity for a long period of time, and we become highly efficient at it, we begin to become more efficient at sweating. So, we actually sweat less as we become more fit.

However, the more fit we become, the more we can push ourselves, leading ourselves to sweat more.Therefore, your level of fitness and sweating should not be correlated.

Better Way to Perceive Effort

RPE: Rate of Perceived Exertion

This is a good scale to judge yourself on when working out. This is how you can determine how hard to are truly working. You can use this number to decide how to reach your fitness goals.

If you want to get an exact measure of calories burned, try using a heart rate monitor with a calorie counter.

Although sweating isn't a good measure of effort, it is beneficial.

Sweating helps eliminate toxins and excess salt through the skin, which improves overall health. Just remember to drink a lot of water during or after sweating to restore hydration.

Do you feel like you get a good workout when you sweat?

Written by Nicole German (RD, LD) for Healthy Eater and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.