Do we need to sweat to have a good workout?

We can start by answering this quite common question right away. The answer is "no". We know that, for several people, a good sweat is an almost sacred experience. We see it so often on social media, so, naturally, it became a social issue.

The amount of sweat one sweats is very individual. It is not necessarily a mirrored image of how hard you are working out. But then, why do we sweat?


What is sweat?

The sweat production starts in the glands, the dermis, in the deeper layer of the skin. These glands are on our body, starting on the forehead and going all around, through the armpits, the palms, until the soles of the feet.

Sweat functions as the body's cooling system. When you start to heat up, during exercise, for example, your sweat glands produce liquid, made from 99% water and 1% salt and fat, on the surface of your skin. As that liquid evaporates in contact with air, it uses energy in the form of heat from your skin, helping stabilize your body temperature. 


Sweating in sports

Our body eliminates excess heat produced by muscular effort through sweat. When we do some physical effort, the activity causes a lot of heat production, and the body temperature ends up increasing. Then, by sweating, the body cools down and reduces its temperature.

Other factors that can impact how much you sweat during exercise include:

  • Age (elderly people sweat less than younger adults)
  • Body weight
  • Gender (men tend to sweat more than women)
  • Genetics
  • Humidity levels
  • Type of exercise


The importance of hydration

Hydration before exercise
At least four hours before exercise, you should try to stay hydrated. This is enough time for your body to stay hydrated and to eliminate any excess fluid through urine.

Hydration during exercise
The amount of sweat lost during a particular activity varies according to environmental temperature, humidity, body weight, genetics, and metabolic efficiency. During practice, you should drink small amounts of liquids.

Hydrating after exercise
What you eat and drink after the workout should contain sodium to urge a faster recovery, especially if you sweat a lot or if the exercise lasts longer than two hours.


Health Benefits of Sweating

Exercise is a great way to boost energy, promote good sleep and maintain a healthy weight. Sweating, as part of working out, and according to Healthline[1], have also several health benefits, such as:

  • Physical exertion benefits from exercise
  • Detox of heavy metals
  • Elimination of chemicals
  • Bacterial cleansing

If you notice you’re sweating too much or not enough during your workouts or at other times, go for a checkup with your doctor.