This is actually a serious issue, not just an inconvenience (but I do understand it is annoying to have to wash your hair every time you exercise because you are soaked with sweat.)
Studies show that women who are able to keep cool during exercise “reported feeling less fatigued and more energized and having less muscle soreness” and in one study “those who had their venous blood cooled by placing their hands on a cold surface during treadmill walking had significant improvements in exercise performance, exercising heart rate, waist circumference, and blood pressure.”
Other studies show that women in their 40’s and 50’s do not just suffer from ‘hot flashes’ - they also get overheated during exercise and their bodies are less able to “dissipate” (get rid of) heat when they exercise, compared to women in their 20’s.
While this all seems rather unfair (and it IS!), there are a few tricks we can use! When we’re exercising indoors, keep the room temp low, use fans liberally (I just LOVE fans!), drink COLD water before and during exercise, and even consider holding cool water bottles in your hands, and put a cool pack around your neck/shoulders. Wear soft, comfortable layers that can be easily removed as your core body temperature heats up. (But don’t fall off the treadmill when taking off your sweatshirt!)
When exercising outdoors in the winter months, also use layers, and don’t be afraid to take off your gloves and hat if your hands/head actually get hot during a workout. It can actually be dangerous to sweat when doing outdoor activities in cold weather, since you can become chilled quite quickly once you slow down (and when you are hit with cold winds.) As one of my favorite ‘survival experts’, Les Stroud, says, “Sweat is death!” when it comes to being exposed to the elements in harsh conditions. Sweating is not fun, but a cold sweat can be deadly.
From a previous blog of mine:
"It seems that my preference to exercise in cool/cold rooms (often with a fan on) has a scientific basis - and we should be advising our patients that they will get better results from exercise, if they do what they can to keep their core body temperatures from heating up too quickly. I always tell our patients that our fat layer acts a little bit like a down jacket - so it's best to try to keep the room cool when exercising.
This study used special 'hand cooling devices' designed to keep venous blood cool, by having participants keep their hands on a surface that kept a steady 61 degrees. The author admits that holding a frozen water bottle during exercise is not really an ideal substitute, but could be tried; I think that it is not optimal to expose hands to ice during exercise, and think it is safer, healthier, and more practical to just advise patients to keep the room cool. They may also cool their core temperatures by drinking cold water ahead of time, and sipping throughout exercise."
I understand that some people love ‘hot yoga’ and feel relaxed and loose after working out in high heat - and if that works for you, go for it! However, there are a substantial number of people (me included!) who prefer to keep their core body temperatures cooler during a workout. Research supports this approach - so don’t feel guilty about avoiding the sweat room, just keep cool!
Bottom line: studies show that if women keep cool, they’ll exercise longer, and harder - and that can lead to better results. Using fans, drinking COLD water, keeping the temp low in the room during workouts, even holding cold water bottles in your hands - may help you get a BETTER workout. So, stay cool!
- Cool Hands Help Heavy Women Exercise More The aim is to slow the rise in core temperature during exercise, which can cause overheating in obese individuals because of the insulating properties of adipose tissue. That results in a lower heat tolerance, greater discomfort, and a decreased likelihood of continuing to exercise....Sims and colleagues evaluated whether the cooling could have beneficial effects in a study of 24 healthy women ages 30 to 45 who had no history of long-term structured exercise. All had a body mass that was 120% to 135% above the ideal or a body mass index of 30 to 34.9 kg/m2.... "During the study, women in the control group abandoned the exercise program sooner than those in the cooling group. In fact, the participation rate was about 98% in the cooling group and only 78% in the control group, even after enrolling more patients because of dropouts.
- Do Older Females Store More Heat than Younger Females during Exercise in the Heat?
- "It's gonna be a long week" - Les Stroud "You sweat you die"