No Sweat ... No Problem - FIT Human Performance

No Sweat … No Problem


EasyApril 6, 2014

Today a client told me that she didn’t even break a sweat, but was totally exhausted after the workout … huh?  My first response is that I have the club temperature set so the body finds homeostasis.  By definition homeostasis is “the ability or tendency of an organism or cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its physiological processes.”

You have no doubt heard the old adage, “let’s go exercise and work up a good sweat”, like sweating is a sign that you’ve had a good, productive workout. But what if you exercise and you don’t really sweat during the workout? Was that workout a lost cause? Does it mean you just didn’t exercise long or hard enough for it to be a productive workout? Heck no!  Here are a few facts to dispel the ever popular myth about just why you sweat and how it relates to exercise.

Your body is like an engine that never stops running and like all engines, it produces heat. The more your muscles contract, the more heat is produced. If the body didn’t have ways of keeping you cool, you would overheat and collapse within minutes.

One method of keeping you cool is radiation, where heat radiates out of the skin if the air around you is cooler than your body. Another method is conduction, which is the transfer of heat by direct contact such as swimming in a pool of cold water where the water absorbs your body heat. A third method is convection where moving air cools you down, like when you stand in front of my Dyson fan, or when the wind blows. Lastly is evaporation, where water from our blood absorbs the heat and rises to the surface of the skin through the sweat glands so it can evaporate creating a cooling effect. In colder conditions, you will not need to sweat as much due to the body using radiation to keep cool. In hotter conditions, sweating is the primary method of keeping cool due to the air outside being hotter than your body (like Texas in July) but if there is humidity present, sweat cannot evaporate as well and that’s why you will see sweat dripping off you.  SO, in this environment I set the intensity of your workouts to avoid too much overheating and running sweat … you will get enough of that over the next few months outside.

Everyone has a different sweating pattern. Gender, age, fitness level and environment contribute to how much you sweat. Women are known generally to sweat less and start to sweat at higher temperatures than men. Most people tend to sweat less as they grow older and thus cannot tolerate the heat as well as a younger person (keep in mind, declining fitness levels may have something to do with that as well). In laboratory experiments where both young and old people were of similar fitness levels, there was no notable difference in their sweating process.

If you exercise in an air-conditioned room or outside when it’s a cooler time of year, you will not sweat as much because the cold air evaporates your sweat faster and also sets your body up to use more of the radiation method meaning your body can deal with the heat created by exercise more easily. It does NOT mean you are not burning as many calories. The intensity and length of time of your exercise is what determines caloric burn, not how much you sweat. You are sweating all the time but you don’t always see it (i.e. when your body is radiating or evaporating).

If it were true that the more you sweat, the more calories you burn during exercise then it would also be true that you would be burning more calories simply sitting in a hot, humid room so could build up a sweat, but this is NOT the case as the sweat you would be seeing is due only to the conditions of the room not allowing for evaporation for cooling the body.

Exercise produces heat, heat produces calorie expenditure, and you produce the same amount of heat whether exercising in a cold environment or a hot one, so just because you don’t sweat as much in the colder environment does not mean your exercise session was less productive.  So go ahead, work as hard as possible to break a sweat in this nice cool environment.  I will give you a nice long 90 second break to cool off  And remember, at FIT we keep it cool so you won’t have to sweat, which means there is no reason you shouldn’t be exercising on your lunch break.

In good health,


“I find exercise to be one of the greatest things a person can do for their health. The human body is designed to walk, run, jump, and dance. Basically we were made to move. Add more movement to your day. The results will be a healthier life.” – Vishen Lakhiani