If you define a good workout based on how sweat-soaked you are at the end, you may be curious to learn what your sweat can tell you. Sweat, at its most basic, is just your body’s way of cooling you down to avoid overheating. Think of it as your body’s natural air conditioning. Sweat, though, is more than that. Understanding what’s in our sweat can help us better understand our bodies.
- Sweat isn’t just water. While sweat is mostly water leaving your body, one percent of sweat is a combination of salt and fat.
- Sweat isn’t the most accurate indicator of a tough workout. There are many factors that change the amount that you sweat even when you’re doing the same exercise routine each day. Certain medications affect the amount you sweat, as does whether or not you are properly hydrated. Genetics may also play a factor in how much sweat you produce in day to day life. Even your current fitness level plays a role in the level of sweat you produce. Ironically, a higher level of physical fitness produces more sweat because your body is better trained at cooling itself. If you typically rely on sweat to tell you how hard a workout was, opt for paying attention to your breathing, heart rate, or exertion level instead for a more accurate picture.
- Excessive sweating may lead to dehydration. If you want to use sweat as an indicator of anything during your workout, let it be a reminder to drink more water. Dehydration will make your workout feel harder and may detrimentally impact your fitness goals. Hydrating before, during, and after your workout with plenty of water will leave you able to push yourself harder.
- Rehydrating with water is always your best option. Unless you’re doing two-a-day workouts or working out hard for more than an hour, you only need to replenish fluid lost through sweat with water. If your workouts take more than an hour or you workout out twice a day or more, you may want to add a drink with added electrolytes to your hydration plan. If you opt for fluids with electrolytes, be sure to read the labels. Some electrolyte sports drinks have more calories than others. A nutrient dense meal after your workout can also restore your body’s natural balance of electrolytes. After a hard workout, strive to eat a meal rich in dark leafy green vegetables, nuts, tomatoes and lettuce. A healthy salad with a variety of vegetables will replace the magnesium, sodium, and potassium that may have dripped off you at FitClub.
No matter how you feel about sweat, remember there are better ways to judge your effort. And don’t forget to wipe down your machines after each workout!