I was recently asked the following question by a faithful reader: “Why do I sweat more when doing the elliptical with the moving arms than the treadmill?” -Soaked in Stockton
Well, Soaked, the reason is complicated. Let’s assume that you are moving at somewhat comparable, average speeds on both machines which would be about 5.5 mph on the treadmill and 5.0 on the elliptical for this comparison. You assume that because you are moving faster on the treadmill combined with how torturous the activity is that you should be rewarded with more visible signs of your effort, i.e sweat. But what you aren’t counting on is that in choosing the elliptical with the moving arms, you have made a choice to actively engage four limbs instead of two. “Wait”, you might be thinking, while dripping huge puddles of sweat on everyone and everything, “I move my arms when I run too.” While that may be true, it is likely that your arm movement is inactive and low intensity, a side effect of your natural gait. Whereas on the elliptical you are moving your arms in an unnatural way unless you are a daily skier or one of those old folks that walks with those poles.
Not using the arms and still ending up wetter than a hyper third grader at a Sea World whale show? You might be afraid of heights causing adrenaline-related surges of sweat. Or you might just be new to the elliptical. Research shows that the instability inherent to elliptical workouts engages more balancing muscles which may increase sweat output. Or you might need to stop staring dreamily at the strong trainer in the tight shirt across the way.
Keep up the good work(out),