Sweating- good or bad?

Question: Is sweating that important? Other than a light sweat, isn’t sweating overrated (thanks to popular culture, and maybe the context of western colder climate being ignored by tropical countries)?

I’ve read that the ideal temp to work out in is 23 to 24 degrees C (source: Charles Poliquin). I suppose one does not sweat to the extent of pools on the floor at that temperature (like we tend to, in our climate).

Does the degree of sweating actually correlate to an increase in anything good, as in rate of calories burnt, or increase in some sort of muscle building rate, or something like that?


Sweating does eliminate waste products.
So there is a benefit.
The downside is loss of electrolytes.
More sweat doesn’t always mean a better training effect. Most of the time it might mean a worse outcome.
The amount of sweat correlates well with the amount of work done. But, whether that increased work results in increased positive benefits, is not a given.

The main benefit of sweating is as a cooling mechanism. To avoid overheating and death. That’s a significant benefit.

There’s no need to avoid sweating. But it might be overrated, especially in the context of sweating during exercise.

Sweating without exercise as in saunas and sunlight exposure has a similar effect, but without the elevated heart rate associated with exercise. That will have another effect. But similar.

Sweating is a response to overheating.
The benefit arises directly from the hormetic response to the transient rise in body temperature. That is mainly from the mediators released by the body in response to elevated core body temperature.

Heat shock proteins.
They are hormetic signals. They trigger growth and make the body more anti fragile.
Hormesis is the process by which the body becomes stronger after a challenge that comes close to causing death/damage.
Basically, this-
“Anything that doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” (within reason, smartass!)

Similarly there are cold shock proteins.
Exposure to extreme cold makes you stronger. Exposure to low levels of oxygen makes you stronger (check out how strong the people from the highlands are)

You’ll have to walk the knife edge of training load to get stronger. Too small a challenge, and you don’t get a hormetic stimulus. Too large a challenge, and you end up with immune suppression, injury and permanent damage.

Popular culture associates the health benefits of raised body temperature with sweating. But in reality, the benefits are from the hormetic effects of heat shock proteins, and probably other classes of mediators we haven’t even discovered yet.

Leave a Reply