I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I’ve been told that. “What? You aren’t sweating? You just aren’t working hard enough.” And I will tell you that it drives me batty to hear it. Our bodies are all different, and even the amount we sweat varies by person. There are so many fitness myths out there that hurt us instead of motivating or enabling us to be our best, and this is one that needs to be debunked.
Just like some people have super hair chests and others have ears they can wiggle while some cannot possibly roll their tongues, some people sweat when you mention the word exercise while others stay dry as a bone even when doing hot yoga. I fall into the latter camp. In fact, I simply don’t sweat, nor does my mother.
It doesn’t matter how hard I’m working or how hot it is outside, my body doesn’t sweat the same way that other people’s does. I may end up with a little on my upper lip and occasionally on the back of my neck near my hairline, but everything else lacks so much as a drop of sweat.
While this seems like it may be nice – who really wants to be dripping and uncomfortable whenever the heat rises or whenever you’re (ahem) working up a sweat, but it definitely has its downsides, too. Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling off. Since I don’t sweat, it’s far more difficult for me to cool down when it’s hot out. I’m more susceptible to heatstroke than most other people. My face turns and oh so attractive shade of beet red, and my mouth dries out. I get hot but can’t cool down unless I enter a pool to take a shower. The sheer amount of water I drink to try to cool myself from the inside surprises even me.
And yet, when someone sees me after a workout and comments that I must not have worked hard enough because I’m not sweating or I tell them I don’t sweat and the sniff indelicately before informing me that I just need to “up my intensity” then I’ll sweat, I can only shrug.
I used to wear a heart rate monitor to track my exercise regularly. When running or doing other vigorous activity, my heartrate would easily exceed 180 beats per minute for the duration and generally stay in the mid 190s when I was working hard. I’m pretty sure – based on all the charts I’ve ever seen – that I can’t work much harder than that without keeling over. I work out close to my max without sweating simply because I don’t sweat.
No one can tell me that I don’t work hard enough simply because I don’t sweat. It’s a myth. And I can’t look at some of my friends and conclude that they had a great workout just because they are covered in sweat. Some of them “schvitz” the moment they walk out the door. The amount – or lack thereof – of sweat is no indicator of how hard you’ve worked. Instead you have to know yourself and know what you’re doing and be honest with yourself. Can you do better? As long as you’re doing right by yourself, ignore the naysayers and enjoy your workout.
Whether you sweat or not.