sweating exercise

Does Sweating More Mean You’re More Fit?


I’m relatively new to triathlon and to serious training. Over the past several months I’ve been making steady progress, and recently I’ve noticed that I’ve started sweating more. The conditions (temp and humidity) are about the same as they’ve been, but I’m sweating a lot more. Does that mean I’m getting more fit?

 – Jackie Gallagher, training for my first Ironman!


The short answer to your question, assuming that the environmental conditions have been roughly constant, is yes. Improving fitness impacts the way your body works in a wide variety of ways, and your sweat response to exercise changes as you become more fit because you’re increasing the workload your body has to be able to handle.

Sweat is one of your body’s primary means of preventing your core temperature from rising to dangerous levels. During exercise, the majority of the calories you burn actually generate heat instead of powering forward motion (sorry, but that’s just the way it is). In fact, on the bike you are only about 20-25% efficient, meaning 75% of the energy you produce becomes heat. That heat has to be dissipated, so your body dilates blood vessels near the skin to carry some of that heat away from your core to areas where cooler air flowing over the skin can carry away some of the heat. Sweat makes the cooling process work even better, because as sweat evaporates off your skin it takes a lot of heat with it.

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As you become more fit, you are able to work harder. You generate more power on the bike and maintain a faster pace on the run and in the water. But the ability to work harder also means you have the ability to generate a lot of heat in a very short period of time. You also have the endurance to sustain exercise longer, meaning you have the capacity to generate heat for a longer period of time. Your body has to adapt to these demands in order to keep your core temperature stable. Here are a couple of ways it does that:

  1. You start sweating sooner: Your body’s sweat response gets quicker as you gain fitness. This means you’ll see sweat appearing on your skin sooner after you start exercising than you did when you were a novice. These days, when you start warming up your body knows what’s coming next, so it ramps up the cooling process more quickly to stay ahead of the rise in core temperature.
  2. Your sweat volume increases: When the house is on fire, you open up the spigots and get as much water on it as you can. For the fire within, we don’t want to extinguish it but we need to control it, and the more sweat you get onto your skin the more likely you are to be able to keep core temperature from rising out of control. So your body becomes better at creating sweat.
  3. You lose fewer electrolytes per unit volume: As your body is adapting to sweat more and sooner, it also changes the composition of sweat so that you retain more electrolytes than you used to. You’ll still need to replenish electrolytes during exercise, but this adaptation helps to keep the electrolyte requirement manageable.

Fit athletes sweat more because they need to. They generate more heat and have to produce more sweat in order to maximize their evaporative cooling capacity. That means fit athletes have to consume more fluid so you have more to contribute to sweat. But sometimes sweating isn’t enough, or sweat might be enough to keep you moving but you could optimize your performance by helping your body stay cool. That’s where hydration, apparel choices, ice socks/vests, cold sponges, etc. come into play. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  1. Hydration is your source for sweat: The better you hydrate – during exercise as well as throughout the day – the more efficient your body will be when it comes to sweat production. Remember, when there’s not enough fluid to go around, your body starts an internal competition for resources, and all systems experience diminished performance. You don’t absorb and digest food as well, your muscles don’t function as well, and you don’t regulate core temperature as well.
  2. Evaporative cooling works just as well whether it’s your sweat or bottled/tap water that’s evaporating off your skin. Even if you’re well hydrated, it’s a good idea to dump water over your head and body during training sessions and races in hot weather. You’ll make your body’s job a bit easier by slightly alleviating the demand for sweat. Ice socks work the same way; the ice absorbs heat from your body to melt the ice, and then the water carries away additional heat as it evaporates out of clothing or off your skin.
  3. Electrolyte drinks or carbohydrate/electrolyte drinks should be a part of during-exercise nutrition strategy whenever your workouts are going to be longer than 1 hour. For workouts shorter than an hour, electrolyte drinks may still be somewhat helpful, but generally, you’ll start short workouts with enough carbohydrates and electrolytes on board to complete a high-quality one-hour session.

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Comments 67

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  3. Pingback: What It Means When You Start Sweating Quickly After Beginning A Workout – Health Digest – Yourlawofattraction

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  9. sweating can be a reaction to drinking alcohol or coffee, wearing restrictive synthetic clothing, or taking certain medications that affect your ability to tolerate heat. Other factors might include dehydration, menopausal hot flashes, an overactive thyroid gland, genetics, nerve issues or disorders, and skin diseases. How much you sweat is an important characteristic to learn about yourself to optimize physical performance and prevent heat illness. But if you are sweating in an unnatural way or your sweating has increased drastically from last few months or a year then that could be a Red Sign, for those people who have been sweating excessively since their childhood for them it could be natural and they could use products for hyperhidrosis to stop excessive sweating,

  10. Pingback: Does Sweating More Mean You’re More Fit? – The Kate's Vine

  11. I think sweating is good for it keeps the body cool and it is good when you exercise. Wiping sweat off the body would remove the fluid before it evaporates, and main benefit of sweat is evaporative cooling. However, you’re sweating all over your body and probably only wiping sweat off a small percentage of your skin.

  12. I think sweating is good for it keeps the body cool and it is good when you exercise, but sometimes when you are not exercising then sweating is an issue. I have been facing this issue for the last 6 months. My hands are wet all the time and I don’t know why. Can you recommend a stop sweat spray or medicine for this?

  13. I was feeling low because while playing badminton I sweat profusely. I was little bit worried because the people with whom I play they don’t sweat like me. Meanwhile in last one month or, so, I have lost around 4 kg. Do I need to worry or, is it normal?

    Thank you very much.

  14. Pingback: Masters Athletes Hurt More by Heat Stress. Here's What Aging Athletes Can Do About It. - CTS

  15. I’m an ardent fan of sauna but now I too am questioning whether visiting sauna 4 days a week is worth it! How is sweating is a gym is differ from sweating in a sauna? Is it better or worse?

  16. Important tips in this article that we should be aware of about being fit and doing exercises. This would be a huge help. Thanks for sharing this great article.

  17. Does sweating during a workout differ from sweating in a sauna? I mean whether sweating in the sauna makes me fitter?

    1. You will sweat and lose weight in the saunaand if the muscles are there, (abs, chest), the muscles will appear and show but just sitting in a sauna and not exercising will not give you any muscle growth.

  18. Hi. So what about sweating when ur not working out? I’ve started upping my cardio and I have found that I sweat a lot more during the hours I’m NOT working out. I sweat loads during my workout and drink a lot after but I still sweat a lot during my down time and at night. Is that a metabolism relation? I have also been eating smaller meals primarily of protein and veg with little carbs. I’m not overweight, fairly muscular, am fairly fit and always have been. Thanx!

  19. Thank you so much! I was starting to think I’m having premature menopause and couldnt explain why I sweat so much more and earlier in a workout. What a relief!

  20. Pingback: Older Athletes Hurt More by Heat Stress. Here's What To Do About It. - CTS

  21. I start sweating at 7 minotes into a cardio workout almost to the second. I drip almost the entire tIme. Mostly do stationary bike during winter and some parts of it have rusted because of my sweat. I don’t care. I feel like the toxins are out and my body feels clean from the I side .

    1. Wipe your bike down every time you use it. Wipe the saddle, handlebars, frame, the whole thing! It’s the clean thing to do.

  22. I have been experiencing just it. Been sweating so much more during my morning run workout this past 2 weeks. And yes, I feel fitter.

  23. Benjamin.
    Well I am a bit of an all rounder guy who likes to do play a lot of sports. So when I came across this article I measured myself as high in sugar because I drink hot chocolate every day.
    For example I ride my bike for 15min to go to the basketball courts. 1st I warm up by playing tennis on the wall for like another 10min then I play basketball for an hour. My friends say to me hey have you just had a shower. That’s what they say during the game. And reading this I feel happy to know that my body is working fine and yes I’m drinking a lot water to replace it as well. Thanks a million.

  24. As I said, you already know how to prevent your sweating problems. You do not interfere with information you already know. You know that antiperspirants can prevent excessive sweating. But did you know that anti-perspirants based on aluminum chloride block your sweat glands! These types of antiperspirants can treat moderate cases of perspiration. They often come in the form of a rolling solution, which you apply just before going to bed, and then wash in the morning. You can collect them from your local pharmacy for a small amount of money, and they should last about a month!

    1. Your reply doesn’t make any sense. Who is going to apply aluminum chloride antiperspirant all over their entire body? Also who would want to do that and interfere with the cooling process during sports, anyway? Smh

      1. I think one important thing to note is that even while not exercising, people who are fit start to sweat more easily (as noted in the article above). So let’s say you’re at the office working, you run downstairs to grab a coffee, and you find you’re already sweating, whereas before, that used to not create as much sweat. So armpit solutions do work in those cases, and can be quite helpful. I was going to say that actually you don’t need a deodorant, you can opt for miraDry. It’s a machine that stops armpit sweat and odour, and it has been a great help to many who suffer from hyperhidrosis, and those who simply want to reduce sweat as a lifestyle choice.

  25. whoah this weblog is great i like reading your articles. Keep up the good work!
    You recognize, lots of persons are hunting around for this information, you could
    help them greatly.

  26. I’ve started a walking regimen — down 18.7 pounds so far. I am sweating more than I did originally, but I also have some health concerns. This is great information. Thank you.

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  31. Sweating more can mean a lot of things, it could be a medical issue, food you are eating, drinks you are taking, hormonal change and many other.

  32. Thanks for this article! I have been training harder, increasing my run speed and distance. I have never been much of a sweater…typically I sweat a little, but my skin is quite hot to the touch. In the past week, I am profusely pouring sweat in all of my workouts.

    I’ve been mulling it over in my head and the best thing I could come up with was that it correlated with the decision this week to increase my water intake from the normal 64 ounces to 90 ounces per day. BAM! Sweat, sweat, sweat! This was very informative and tells me that my body is now doing what it should be doing….perhaps I just wasn’t giving it enough water. Thanks!

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  35. Another informative article with interesting responses. Sometimes I seem to have an opposite problem: I don’t sweat enough, even on hot days and, frustratingly, even in the “heat” of competition. There are times when, even after a good workout, the top of my head will be somewhat moist but my forehead will be dry as a bone. I’ve never been able to account for this. In some of my races I will sweat “normally”; in others hardly at all. It’s frustrating when I overheat because I feel I have to back off my optimal race pace by 5 to 10% just to keep going. Any thoughts about this?

    1. Post

      There is something called anhidrosis, which can be caused by a wide variety of situations, conditions, and medications. There’s an article on it here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266427.php (link is red on a red background, which is a design flaw for the site template. Hover over the blank space and it’s there…). It’s probably more likely that your sweat response to exercise is changing based on your hydration status. If you start out already somewhat low on fluids (which many athletes do), then your sweat response will be diminished. Also, the environment makes a difference. In very dry climates you may not notice moisture on the skin very much, whereas in humid environments you’ll see sweat all over your skin. – Jim Rutberg, CTS Pro Coach

    2. Sounds like you’re body isn’t getting enough water intake to sweat as much on certain days. Drink more water and see if that helps.

  36. I have heard some people say you should not wipe sweat off your body when training because that will interfere with the evaporation process and result in the need for more fluids. Is there any truth to this statement?

    1. Post

      Theoretically, yes, wiping sweat off the body would remove the fluid before it evaporates, and main benefit of sweat is evaporative cooling. However, you’re sweating all over your body and probably only wiping sweat off a small percentage of your skin (like your face). As such, I wouldn’t worry about it. Keep in mind, that even wiping sweat off the body, having sweat drip off the body, or having fabric transport fluid away from your skin still dissipates heat, which is the primary goal. – Jim Rutberg, CTS Pro Coach

  37. Thank you for this informative article. For the people who sweat a lot and cannot use antiperspirant deodorants, can you recommend a much natural way to reduce it?

  38. Some cases the environmental condition is cause of sweat and those people are exercise and body temperature is high and sweating help to control body temperature and so on. whenever you are wear tight cloths then sweating problem is creates.

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  40. So does this mean that as you get fitter you should assume that you should wear less in cold weather races than you wore before? I feel chilly in what I wear but still manage to sweat like crazy…..Thanks for the informative article!

    1. Post

      You can certainly try training or competing in lighter layers and see what happens. Overdressing in cool to cold weather can be problematic because the athlete sweats a great deal, and then that accumulated sweat cools them more than they anticipated or wanted. It happens a lot when you run/ride with a tailwind (sweat builds up on your front and doesn’t evaporate off your back as well, either, because of reduced airflow) or up a long hill (you’re moving slowly, so there’s less airflow). When you turn into a headwind or head back downhill at higher speed, the increased airflow evaporates the accumulated sweat quickly and you feel chilled. This is why layers can be important, so you can remove layers to avoid overheating and then add layers to avoid too much cooling. – Jim Rutberg, CTS Pro Coach

  41. I was wondering about that. I’m a 10 year kidney transplant recipient/survivor and have been cycling since 3 months post surgery (2001). This past Winter, I noticed that I was sweating a lot more than just about everyone in my spin classes. Thought it could be because of the medicine I take, and the high blood pressure/cholesterol. Thanks for the good read/explanation.

    1. Post

      Medical conditions like an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can lead to excessive sweating, so if there has been a significant change in how you’re sweating without a similarly significant change in fitness or activity level, you may want to consult a physician. – Jim Rutberg, CTS Pro Coach

  42. As a mailman/triathlete, I notice I come back absolutely drenched, compared to everyone else. I seem to start sweating IN ANTICIPATION, of motion.

  43. great article; I was just looking into this a couple weeks ago when a coworker and I were talking about it.
    A related/followup question I had was what the correlation is between sweat and gender? Besides that I sweat WAY more now than I used to, Ive also noticed how much more guys sweat than girls (well, more than they ‘glow’ anyway).
    What is the reason for this?

    1. Post

      Men do sweat more profusely than women – given the same conditions and similar relative fitness levels. The reason is still somewhat of a mystery, but this article: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/do-women-sweat-differently-than-men/ shines some additional light on the subject. – Jim Rutberg, CTS Pro Coach

        1. There’s an all-over body deodorant by purebodyscent that works extremely well for body odors. This article helped me so much in controlling BO.

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