Q: I’ve been working out for approximately 11 weeks now. (I dance to fast and moderately fast-paced music, as well as lift weights.) It takes a lot for me to sweat, and because of this I retain a lot of water. I don’t even sweat in the 90+ heat in South Florida. Is there anything I can do to be able to sweat more? I have tried diuretic pills. No success.
Brandon Marsh answers:
A: Great question from one of our blog readers, Michelle. Interestingly enough, I hear more people complain about being drenched after a workout and trying to find ways to compensate for all of those lost electrolytes. So, Michelle is on the right track for at least recognizing that not sweating may be a problem. And sure enough, sweating is essential.
The inability to sweat, or sweating very little, means you might risk over-heating. Perspiration is the body’s cooling mechanism, like an internal A/C. In a climate such as South Florida, it can be tough to feel the full cooling affect because sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly in humid air. There are a few other ways to help keep your body temperature down when your body isn’t naturally cooling itself through perspiration.
– Wear loose-fitting clothes while you exercise. Stay away from cotton and choose more breathable material. Most “tech” tees are made from polyester to help wick moisture away from the body (also helps keep clothes from clinging to your body).
– For now, I would skip the diuretic pills. My gut feeling is that these may not be a good idea for someone who does not perspire on their own, as they may dehydrate you even more. Diuretics are simply meant to flush out water, but (in this case) the body may not be producing excess water to excrete.
– Be sure you’re properly hydrated before, during and after your workouts. Knowing your sweat rate can help you adequately replenish the electrolytes lost — even if you don’t feel yourself sweating.
There’s a simple equation that will give you the pounds of water lost. From there, you can determine your sweat rate. First, you need to weigh yourself pre-workout and post-workout.
Water loss = Pre-workout weight (lbs.) – Post-workout weight (lbs.)
Sweat rate = (Water loss + Fluids consumed during workout) / Duration of workout
Example: A 130-pound woman ran for 90 minutes and drank one 16-ounce bottle of water.
Water loss = 130 lbs. – 128 lbs. = 2 lbs. = 32 ounces
Sweat rate = 32 oz. + 16 oz. = 48 oz. / 90 minutes
From this we can conclude that the woman’s sweat rate is 32 ounces per hour.
Calculating these stats will help you determine if you, in fact, sweat. Your glands and pores may not be producing much of anything, but weighing in before and after a workout will be the true test.
If you weigh yourself after an hour-long training session and don’t notice a change, you may want to consult a physician. Lack of sweating, also called anhidrosis, can be caused by some medications and/or by certain metabolic conditions. To rule these out, talk to a healthcare professional for further guidance.
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. “˜Like’ them on Facebook or follow on Twitter: Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and Amy @AmyCMarsh.