Q. Is it true that how much you sweat determines how fit you are? I see girls who are working as hard as I am, and they are dry as a bone while I look like a drowned rat.

S.D.

Arlington. A. The amount of perspiration generated during exercise is not an indicator of how fit or unfit you are. The amount of sweat is dictated by the thermostat in your body, which is similar to the thermostat in a car.

Some people sweat profusely even during mild exercise, and some people hardly sweat at all. How much you sweat is determined by the body's reaction to exercise. If exercise causes your temperature to increase significantly, the body reacts by sweating in an attempt to cool down.

It's possible for a person to be very fit yet sweat profusely. Remember, this sweat is just water that will be replaced as soon as any liquid is consumed. It's not a permanent weight loss and it's essential that you rehydrate after sweating to recreate a proper balance in your body tissues.

If a person is overfat, he or she may sweat more than a leaner person. Why? Fat insulates. It tends to hold heat in and keep the cold out. So a person may sweat more if they're carrying any excess fat.

A lean person may also sweat profusely during exercise. Again, the body's thermostat will dictate core body temperature. This in turn will dictate how much the body must perspire to adequately cool the body.

Since your body will respond differently than your friends' to exercise, don't ever compare yourself to anyone but yourself. This includes flexibility, strength and endurance, cardiovascular fit ess and even how much you sweat.

So don't sweat it. It's okay to sweat. And it's no reflection of how fit you are.

I'm 73 years old and would like to share some information with you that may be of some value to your readers. Keep in mind that I have been involved in physically demanding work for over 30 years. I have a simple cure for the common "charlie horse," or muscle cramp.

With the thumb and first finger of both hands, squeeze the fleshy part of the cheek bone (beside the nose and under the eyes). Squeeze till it hurts as much as the cramp. A natural, automatic neurological reaction will cause the cramp to let go. I can assure you it always works.

B.R.

College Park. A.Thanks for the info. I'll give it a try the next time one of our players comes up with a cramp. I sure hope this works. If it doesn't, it will be somewhat embarrassing pinching the cheeks of one of the Redskins on the sidelines during a game.