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BODY MATTERS

Waterworks: which people sweat a lot or a little, and why

December 29, 2008|Jay Blahnik | Blahnik is a Laguna Beach- based personal trainer and IDEA Health & Fitness Assn. spokesman. A freelancer, he has appeared in more than 25 videos and is the author of "Full-Body Flexibility."

When I do cardio, I seem to sweat more than most people. I notice that some people do not seem to sweat at all, even when working out hard. Am I burning more calories, or just not as fit as I should be?

Peter

Ventura

The more you contract your muscles during exercise, the more heat you produce. Sweat is necessary to cool the body while exercising because it prevents you from overheating. However, your environment, exercise intensity, fitness level, gender and genetics all play a role in how easily and how much you sweat.

Consider these points:

* Most men sweat more than women do, even when exercising at similar intensities. However, that does not mean men can handle hotter temperatures than women or vice versa. Heat tolerance appears to be generally the same for both genders.

* You can't "sweat" off extra pounds, and exercising in very hot environments or wearing clothes that promote water loss can compromise your body's cooling system, and can be very dangerous. While you may appear to lose weight on the scale, it is just water weight, and you will regain it as soon as you eat and drink normally.

* Proper hydration and clothing can help keep your body cooler, and often reduce how much you sweat. Drink at least 3 to 4 ounces of water every 10 to 15 minutes while exercising, and wear "breathable" clothing, which can allow more air to flow across your skin.

* Do not judge the intensity or calorie burn of a workout by how much you sweat. If you exercise in a colder environment, it is likely you will not sweat as much as in hotter ones, even if you are burning the same amount of calories. Measure your intensity using other factors, such as breathing rate.

* Even if you are sweating when you work out, it is still possible to overheat when you exercise in extremely hot temperatures or badly ventilated areas. Don't exercise outside during the warmest hours of the day, especially in summer, and use a fan in workout areas that lack good air circulation.

* You can't "sweat" off a hangover, which is primarily caused by dehydration. But light to moderate exercise when you have a hangover may not be a bad idea, if your stomach and digestive system can handle it. Exercise increases circulation, and can help release endorphins, which can make you feel better and more energized. But be sure to drink lots of water, otherwise exercising can dehydrate you further.

* If you exercise regularly, you may sweat more easily and aggressively than your sedentary friends. Though this may seem like a nuisance, it is actually a good thing. Your body has become more efficient at cooling itself, which can enable you to work harder!

--

jay@jayblahnik.com

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