If you’ve scheduled that lunchtime pilates class only to leave in a panic that you wasted your one hour to workout as you didn’t break a sweat, it’s time to reassess. Sure, those fitness fanatics sharing their workouts on Instagram Stories for the world to see make it seem like sweat is the sole indicator of a gruelling workout that promises to lean out the legs and sculpt the torso, but it turns out you can still get an effective workout in without breaking out in sweat.
In an interview with The Cut, Celestine Atalie, a personal trainer certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and an instructor at P.Volve fitness studio, explained that sweat is simply the body’s way of regulating temperature. “A lot of people think sweat is the only gauge of exercise intensity, but it’s more about how much you contracted and released your muscles because that’s how the muscle gets stronger.”
Despite the age-old adage that suggests “sweat is fat crying,” breaking out a sweat by no means correlates to calories burned. Rather, sweating is based solely on the individual and not a reflection of how hard someone is working out. If anything, it just suggests that person is warm and so the body naturally relies on its own cooling system.
Another factor when it comes to workouts and sweating is the fact that when we become more proficient at an activity, the body adapts. It becomes more efficient, stronger and better able to push harder at an exercise, often leading to us sweating less. For those who are well adapted to high intensity exercise, often the addition of high heat can improve conditioning as the body continues to adapt to the challenge.
Ultimately, when it comes to gauging fitness and the intensity of a workout, the best indicator to use is heart rate. As aerobic fitness increases, resting heart rate decreases and can be a great indicator to check when waking up int he morning. Once you have an idea of your baseline, you can see it decrease as you get fitter and in better shape. From there, the mark of a good workout is one that sees the heart rate elevate during exercise. Similarly, if you’re looking to improve fitness, you want to time how long it takes after exercise for your heart rate to return to its resting rate. The quicker it goes back to normal, the fitter you are.
Still, any exercise is better than none and even workouts like barre or yoga that might not elevate the heart rate quite like a spin class or treadmill session have their benefits, like improved mobility and flexibility. So, you don’t need to sweat to get a good workout in, plus it makes the dash from the gym to the office that much faster.
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