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Q&A: More sweat, more gain?

Consumer Reports News: April 06, 2010 09:38 AM

If I make myself sweat more during exercise, by turning up the heat or wearing more clothes, will I get more benefits? —R.B., Brooklyn, N.Y.

Possibly, but it’s not worth the risks. Exercising in a hot setting increases not only sweating but also heart rate and oxygen consumption. That increases aerobic benefits, burns more calories, and causes some immediate weight loss. 

But the steps you mention aren’t recommended because they can prevent sweat from evaporating and thus cooling the body; that in turn might lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, dehydration, or heatstroke. And those rapidly lost pounds are almost entirely water; they’ll return once you drink enough to replenish the lost fluids. Advocates of forced sweating claim one other benefit: It removes waste products from your system and flushes impurities from the skin’s pores. However, both effects are minor; normal bathing cleanses the pores better than sweating, and urinating eliminates far more of the other wastes.

For more on burning calories and losing weight the right way, see our diet and fitness guide

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