Is It Harder to Burn Fat During the Winter From Not Sweating?

Exercising outdoors can be rewarding, challenging and invigorating, but it also places you at the mercy of the ambient temperature. In winter, your body has to work but in a different manner than in summer by maintaining a consistent temperature that also prevents damage caused by freezing cold. This is accomplished without the temperature regulation of sweating that's so effective in keeping the summer body cool. Burning fat when exercising in the winter may be more difficult than in the summer, but several factors can change the outcome.


Although sweating serves to cool down your body temperature when you're exercising in warmer temperatures, it can be dangerous in the winter. The same cooling effect that occurs in the heat can be triggered when wearing clothing in the winter that insulates your body. Stopping in the midst of a winter jog can cause the sweat to make your skin cool down too much, posing a threat of frostbite or cooling your body to the point where you shiver. ACE Fitness explains, in their online publication "Do I Burn More Calories When It Is Hot Outside Or Cold?" that shivering is a sign that your body's temperature is too low.

Temperature Regulation

Are Thermal Suits Good for Weight Loss?

Learn More

Sweating is your body's primary way of regulating temperature, also known as thermoregulation. Physiologist Len Kravitz, PhD. of the University of New Mexico explains in their online publication "Thermoregulation" that this process occurs whenever you exercise, regardless of other factors. Your body's 2.6 million sweat glands, he continues, are stimulated by the hypothalamus gland when your core temperature increases. This increase can occur in summer or winter, since it's mediated internally, not externally.

Winter Exercise

Winter exercise poses challenges to your body's ability to cool itself, especially if you wear warm clothing. Instead of a single heavy layer of clothing, the Mayo Clinic explains in their online guide "Exercise and Cold Weather" that wearing multiple layers of clothing can enable you to prevent sweating that can make you colder. ACE Fitness explains, however, that the shivering that occurs when you sweat in winter weather encourages you to burn more fat than if you don't shiver.

Burning Fat

Does Wearing a Plastic Bag Help Burn Calories?

Learn More

Fat burning appears to be more effective when you exercise in warm weather rather than cold weather. This, explains ACE Fitness, is because your body works harder to cool you down than it does to keep you warm. The exception to this rule is if your body shivers when you're exercising in winter, leading to an increase in metabolism. Despite the disparity in fat burning, exercising in winter can be an effective way to stay fit in the months when it often seems easier not to venture outdoors. Wearing layers that are easily shed to prevent sweating can help you enjoy the outdoors without falling victim to the elements.