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Sweating And Burning Calories: Explaining The Connection

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, explores the science behind the connection between sweating and burning calories.

Regarding weight loss and exercise, sweating is a sign of hard work and calorie burning. But how closely are sweating and burning calories related?

“Let’s debunk a common myth: the more you sweat, the more weight you shed. This is not true. Sweat isn’t a measure of fitness or fat loss; it’s simply your body’s way of cooling down.” Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health, emphasises this point.

Research indicates that while sweating can temporarily decrease body weight due to fluid loss, it does not directly correlate with permanent fat loss.”

Understanding Sweating

Sweating is the body’s natural way to regulate temperature. When body temperature rises from environmental heat or physical activity, sweat glands release moisture (sweat) that cools the skin through evaporation.

While nearly everyone sweats during intense physical activity or high temperatures, the amount and intensity of sweating can vary widely from person to person.

The Basics of Burning Calories

Calories are the energy that fuels your body, and burning calories refers to how your body uses this energy. During physical activity, your body burns more calories than when at rest. This energy expenditure helps to power movement and supports the metabolic processes essential for life.

The Connection Between Sweating and Calorie Burn

While sweating does not burn many calories, the activities that cause you to sweat often do. High-intensity exercise that makes you sweat also tends to be higher in calorie expenditure. Here’s why:

Intensity of Exercise: Workouts that are intense enough to make you sweat are also higher in energy demand. Activities like running, cycling, rowing, jump rope, dance cardio, and boxing increase your heart and metabolic rates, leading to more calories burned.

Muscle Activation: Intense activities that usually induce sweating involve multiple muscle groups, which require more energy to sustain the activity, thus increasing the number of calories burned.

Afterburn Effect: High-intensity workouts (short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief rest periods) can help you burn calories even after exercising. This phenomenon is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). After intense exercise, your body keeps burning calories as it returns to its normal resting state. This means you’re still using energy and losing weight even when resting. High-intensity workout examples include Tabata Training, CrossFit, Kickboxing and Spin Classes.

Sweating and Weight Loss

Understanding that sweating more doesn’t automatically lead to more weight loss is crucial. Actual weight loss happens when you burn more calories than you consume. Although intense workouts that cause you to sweat can help burn more calories, merely sweating more without increasing the intensity of your exercise won’t yield the same results.

Hydration and Health

Since sweating can lead to water loss, it’s crucial to emphasise staying hydrated. Drinking adequate water not only replenishes fluids lost from sweating and supports metabolic functions but also helps to lubricate joints, ensuring smoother movements and reducing the risk of injuries. Dehydration, even at minimal levels, can impair muscle function, reduce endurance, and increase the perception of effort, making your workout feel much more complicated than it is.


While there is a correlation between sweating and burning calories due to the nature of the activities that cause both, it’s important to reiterate that sweating is not a direct indicator of calorie expenditure. To lose weight and increase fitness, a healthy diet and exercising in ways that make your heart work harder and burn energy are essential. Remember that everyone’s body reacts differently to exercise, and just because you sweat a lot doesn’t mean your workout is more effective.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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