Sweating It's a Good Thing!

Editor's Note: When you see these three dots surrounded by a gray rectangle — 1 — you can click on it to get further information about the topic. Click a second time, and the message goes away.

This article was edited and updated on July 7, 2017.

The Mechanisms of Sweating

Most of us sweat on a hot day just working around the house or taking a walk. And most of us sweat during fitness class — some more than others. In hot weather, we may sweat even more. It's not uncommon for participants in a fitness class to make it clear that they either want a fan on them, or they do not want a fan on them. As the instructor, it's difficult to make sure that everyone is satisfied with the situation.

Let's begin with an obvious discussion — here's what you need to know about sweating:

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The Benefits of Sweating

There are many benefits to sweating, but here are four very important ones:

You Should Avoid overheating

There is a big difference between a healthy sweat and a body that's overheated.

Remember this:

See also: Heat Injuries: Learn to Recognize the Signs

So remember these three simple rules about exercising in hot weather:

Do fans really cool you down?

The fan controversy comes up every year, particularly in the summer, of course, and so it's time once again to remind everyone of how much we need to respect each other's needs in the fitness class. 4

No one knows for sure if fans are an effective way to cool you down while exercising or during a heat wave.

Research has been done, but unfortunately has proven little. Here are some points from an article from Health Day News, Thursday, July 12, 2012, discussing the results of a meta-study from The Chochrane Library of July 11th where researchers looked at all the research about fans and their usefulness that they could find:

This comes from an article "Why Fans Don't Always Make Things Cooler" in Wired dated August 20, 2015:

"There is one other key ingredient for a fan to do its job — liquid water. This is all about evaporation. When liquid water turns into gas water (water vapor), this takes energy and the energy comes from the rest of the liquid water. The result is that the remaining liquid water gets colder. Evaporation cools off water. Here is a more complete explanation from a previous post on evaporation.

"For humans, we call this liquid water “sweat”. Fans need sweat to cool off a human. When air moves quickly over liquid water, it increases the evaporation rate. More evaporation means cooler liquid sweat and a cooler human."

So what about fans in fitness class?

What’s a fitness instructor to do? Personally, I dislike the fans in fitness class. I prefer to cool my body with natural sweat. I find the fans too loud — and since I do not use a mike, I have to raise my voice more than usual. People have complained, as well, that they can't hear the music when the fans are on. But I have no desire to turn up the music as that isn't good for us either. (See Music and Fitness Class: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) As well, for me, the fans irritate my allergies by spreading pollen and dust throughout the room. Indeed, just the air blowing in my face will irritate my eyes.

Two facts we can all agree on are:

This is clearly a subjective decision. If you feel hot, you want to find a way to cool down. If you find the fans noisy or too cool on your skin, you want the fans off or, at minimum, turned away from you. Compromise is the only way for everyone to enjoy fitness class on a warm day:

FOR EVERYONE:

FOR THOSE WHO DON'T WANT A FAN NEAR THEM:

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO USE A FAN:

See also:

I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.

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  1. These three dots behave exactly like a footnote. Click on them and you will get more information about the topic. 

  2. Source for this section: A web page by Dr. Bob Murray, Ph.D. 

  3. Please bring your water bottle to class every single time — and use it whenever you have a moment. Even if you don't feel thirsty, your body needs hydration — especially if you're sweating. 

  4. As the instructor, I also want things to be safe. I am concerned about heat and cold, noise, too much breeze, and someone overheating.