Fit to Sweat
There was a point in my life where I rarely broke a sweat, it didn't matter how hot it was outside, or what I was doing. I had fallen off the band wagon of my fitness routine at some point, while I was still working out, it wasn't daily, nor was it with much intention in the moment, which means they were mediocre workouts. I thought being fit meant being skinny, small, and had to do with the numbers on a scale and the size of my clothes. For well over a year now I have been working out with intent during each workout, and more recently I have noticed that not only do I sweat, I sweat earlier on in my workout, and I sweat more than ever before. I was curious about this, why is my body all of a sudden producing so much sweat during workouts where I didn't sweat much if ever before. I dove right into research, and what I found shocked me to be honest.
What I found was that "fit people" have the tendency to not only sweat more, but to sweat sooner during exercise than those who are potentially "less fit" again, I was mind blown. I never considered myself fit, or athletic in my younger years. Yes, I worked out, and I was a competitive horseback rider, but never in a million years would you hear me say I was either fit or athletic. The reason we sweat more when we are in better shape is that our body's heat regulating system becomes more efficient in the process of cooling us down faster, which in turn, allows you to work harder during your workout. Again, this is not what I had expected to find, in fact, prior to my research I thought that those who sweat had to be working harder than me and burning more calories, turns out, I was wrong.
As one's body temperature increases, your eccrine glands then secrete sweat, that evaporation of moisture from the skin is what helps you cool down. Sweating is one of your body’s primary means of preventing your core temperature from rising to potentially dangerous levels.There are other reasons we may sweat, stress, fear, anger, anxiety, being in the heat, or eating spicy foods for example. However, how much a person sweats while being physically active has multiple factors to be considered. Age, gender, weight, genetics, and climate all play a part. Those who are larger have a tendency to sweat more, as their bodies generate more heat than a smaller person. For whatever reason, age matters, younger people tend to sweat more than older people. Women are known to sweat less then men. Of course the climate in which we are working out also plays a part, things such as the temperature and humidity may be factored in.
If you sweat more, you may notice it seems the scale is lower after a high impact workout, don't be fooled, you have lost water, and as soon as you quench your thirst and re-hydrate your body, it's likely you haven't lost several pounds per workout, this also means you can't assume that you have burned tons of calories either. To play devils advocate, don't assume that if you don't sweat much or at all that you aren't working hard enough or burning calories, it could simply mean that your sweat evaporates at a faster rate, or perhaps you are working out in a cooler air-conditioned space. Unlike myself at this point in time, perhaps you don't sweat much as all. There's nothing wrong with that either!
In having the ability to work harder, it also means that you have the ability to create more heat in a shorter period of time. It likely means that you also have the stamina and endurance to sustain exercise for a longer period of time, along with being able to generate that heat for a longer period of time as well.
Our bodies adapt to the demands in which we place on it in order to prevent us from overheating, they protect us and keep our core temperature stable. It does this several ways. The first, is that it allows us to start sweating sooner, as you become more fit, your body's sweat response increases. Which means you may notice sweat dripping shortly into your workout rather than towards the middle or end when you didn't have as much stamina and endurance. Due to the efforts you have put in, your body now identifies when you start warming up, and it is aware of whats coming next, therefore the cooling process is intensified and sped up to start quicker, getting ahead and keeping the core temperature from rising to fast or too much. Next, your sweat volume increases, thus the more sweat you get onto your skin, the more likely it is that you will be able to control your core temperature from getting out of control. In essence, your body becomes more efficient at creating sweat. Interestingly enough, as your body adapts and changed, it changes the composition of your sweat, helping your maintain more electrolytes than you once did.
This isn't to say that you shouldn't replenish electrolytes during exercise, because you should absolutely, however, the adaptation helps to keep the electrolyte requirement manageable, as you are loosing fewer electrolytes per volume. Fit "athletes" if you will, sweat more because they need to. They are generating more heat, and need to produce more sweat to ensure that the body is maximizing it's evaporating and cooling capacities. This also means that for those who are fit, they should hydrate more often in order to contribute to the sweat. The more you hydrate throughout the day, and while working out, the more efficient your body will your body will be. If you haven't hydrated enough your body will look for other sources, which leads to a decrease in your overall performance.
Other factors to consider are hydration, athletic wear choices, weather conditions where you are, or the temperature in the gym or home gym that you may be using. You may also notice that you aren't absorbing or digesting food as well, your muscles may struggle to function as well, and you may have a hard time regulating your core temperature. It is also suggested that if you are working our for more than an hour, you incorporate electrolyte drinks, while they may still have benefits for shorter workouts, you will likely have enough of your own electrolytes and carbohydrates to get through a quality workout session.