Working out shirtless is sometimes essential, especially in states where the humidity is absolutely unbearable.
I live in New Jersey, where the summer humidity is thicker than our fake New York accents. I’m usually not a fan of running shirtless – it just feels odd – but sometimes the high temperatures leave me no choice.
A few miles into a run, I’ll rip off my top and finish my run without a shirt on. But does running shirtless really cool a person off?
“When you exercise, you use energy that’s stored in your body to perform the work,” Dr. Samuel N. Cheuvront told Men’s Journal. Cheuvront is a research physiologist who studies fluid balance and endurance exercise.
“But only about 20 percent of all the energy we’re generating when we exercise actually goes toward performing the physical work; the rest of it is turned into heat.”
Chris Minson, a professor of human physiology at the University of Oregon, studies heat acclimation responses in athletes.
Minson explained to Men’s Journal:
Your body has a limited capacity for storing that heat energy. So when your brain senses your body temperature has increased, it elicits two responses: It shunts more blood flow to the skin, where increased vasodilation—a widening of the blood vessels at the skin’s surface—prepares your body to start dumping heat.
At the same time, your brain signals the millions of sweat glands in your body to push water vapor through your pores onto your skin, where it then evaporates. It takes energy for that liquid to shift to gas; that’s how your body gets rid of excess heat.
The evaporation process is essential for staying cool.
Cheuvront explains why taking off your shirt is the smartest idea by saying “the less clothing you wear, the more opportunity there is for an evaporative heat exchange between your skin and the air.”
Working out shirtless increases the amount of air hitting the body and running shirtless creates convection – the breeze hitting you while in motion – which helps facilitate the evaporation process.
TL;DR – Go topless to stay cooler.
[via Men’s Journal]