Sweating: Do these myths have you focusing on the wrong exercise goals?

Posted by Al Boyle
On February 25, 2024

Martinez: “There’s a little smell goin’ on over there, bud.”

Watney: “I haven’t had a shower in a year.”

 

Astronaut Mark Watney, upon removing his helmet after his rescue from Mars
The Martian (2015)

Sweating gets a bad rap.

Consider the consumer goods on the market to help solve for it.

We’ll clog our pores with anti-perspirant to suppress it.

Or we’ll slather on deodorant to increase our skin’s acidity so we repel bacteria and mask its offensive odor.

When we’re working out, though, our thinking changes.

Have you ever been in the midst of a hard workout and thought, I’m soaked with sweat from this amazing workout.

Or worse…

How come I’m not sweating like I usually do from this workout?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Why you sweat

Sweating is a natural function that helps regulate your body’s temperature.

That’s right, your ability to sweat is your portable, custom-built air conditioning system. And its thermostat is auto-tuned to your needs.

How cool is that? (couldn’t resist)

Myth: Sweating is a good measure for your workout’s effectiveness

“Three years, undefeated. Nobody’s even come close. I saw him take MacLean for a fall without even working up a sweat.”

 

High school student Louden Swain, explaining to his wrestling coach why he wants lose 23 pounds and wrestle the state champion, Shute
Vision Quest (1985)

First, major points for your intentional approach to workouts! There’s showing up, and there’s showing up.

Just know sweating is deceivingly complex, with factors like temperature, humidity, fitness level, and genetics influencing how much or how little you sweat.

Yeah, it’s sciencey, but as complex as the human body is, would you expect its A/C to be simple?

Let your fitness tracker or personal trainer help you assess your workout’s intensity or calories burned.

Myth: Sweating equals fat burning

“Look, it was easy to drop twelve pounds. All you had to do was wring the water out of your system.”

 

Coach, reacting to Louden’s weight loss and desire to wrestle off at 178 pounds
Vision Quest (1985)

Sweating doesn’t burn fat. Any weight loss from sweating is primarily water weight that you’ll recover when rehydrating.

Myth: Sweating detoxifies your body

If only.

And let’s not diss our liver and kidneys, which do the heavy lifting when it comes to detoxifying our body.

Sweat is mostly water and trace minerals. Working out contributes to liver and kidney health, which makes them more effective at it.

So, keep moving knowing you’re having an indirect impact on detoxing.

The last drop

Sweating is a natural and healthy process even when you’re not exercising. Just don’t rely on it to determine your workout’s effectiveness. There are tools for that

I hope you’re all set with sweating now, and you marvel at how adaptable your body is to its environment.

Stay active, and try not to sweat about sweating.

Your body’s on it, 24/7.

Resources

https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/top-10-workout-myths

https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/myths-about-sweat-debunked/

https://brookeburke.com/blog/fitness-myth-debunked-more-sweat-means-a-better-workout/

https://www.healthline.com/health/deodorant-vs-antiperspirant#deodorants

https://askthescientists.com/exercise-detox/

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