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Wondering if you are burning more calories when you sweat more? Or why do men sweat more than women? Research Associate Professor Jason Lee from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s Department of Physiology is here to bust some myths and share why it is a good thing for you to be sweating.

Sweating is our body’s way of cooling itself down as it efficiently helps regulate one’s core body temperature, and this differs between individuals.

“The fitter you are, the easier you’ll sweat.” – Assoc Prof Jason Lee

“The volume of sweat generated varies very considerably between individuals. It could range from about 200ml to more than a litre.” Assoc Prof Lee added, “Fit individuals are very sensitive to heat as sweat evaporation is the main avenue of heat loss during exercise. As such, when one starts to exercise and heat is produced as a result, the fitter one will attempt to cool down sooner.”

On the other hand, the heavier you are, the more you will sweat as opposed to how easily fitter people gets sweaty. You will require more effort – and therefore, produce more heat – to move a heavier person, explained Assoc Prof Lee. As a result, a bigger person will produce more sweat to help him or her dissipate the body heat.

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Does it differ betweeen men and women?

Gender is another differentiating factor as to why some sweat more than others. “Men are known as wasteful sweaters,” said Assoc Prof Lee. “They usually sweat more than what is required for them to cool off. Women seem to be more efficient in this regard – they sweat just enough.”

Am I burning more calories when I sweat more?

Many people have this misconception that sweating more means one is burning more calories, as they notice some weight loss after a sweaty workout. However, this is largely due to water loss.

Assoc Prof Lee busted this notion – “It is a myth. You do not burn more calories with more sweating. It may feel harder to exercise because of the higher thermal strain, and not because more energy is being expended.”

The amount of calories burnt depends on the intensity of your workout or activity, not the amount of sweat produced.

Can I minimise sweating?

Unless you move away from the equator, “we will simply sweat earlier, and therefore, sweat more,” said Assoc Prof Lee. He explained that it is our body’s way of coping with the high humidity. As such, he advises people not to tinker with one’s body’s heat-regulating function to minimise sweating. “This is your body’s life saver as we embrace a warmer world,” he added.

And if you are wondering why the back of your shirt or top is often soaked through, that is because the upper back is the most sweat-prolific, said Assoc Prof Lee.

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