Over the past few years, more and more people have been engaging in “hot workouts”. These are workouts where the temperature of the surrounding environment is raised in order to make the body sweat more.
Among the most popular of these type of workouts is Bikram Yoga, which is also called hot yoga because participants perform the various yoga poses in 100 degree heat.
So the question is, are hot workouts safe?
Those who regularly attend these hot workout sessions say that they experience numerous benefits that come with working out in high temperatures.
Some of these benefits being an increase in flexibility which helps prevent injury, weight loss, detoxification and burning more calories.
What Happens in High Temperature Workouts
To get to the heart of the matter, we look into how the body reacts when put in a high temperature environment, specifically one where you’re working out at the same time.
In normal aerobic exercise situations, the increase in physical activity also increase the rate of our heartbeat, as the body works harder. The heart compensates by pumping more blood to deliver more oxygen to the different parts of the body.
When we put ourselves in hot environments, what happens then?
Doing the same exercises, with the temperatures ramped up, forces our body to adjust.
In doing so, the heart works even harder, at approximately 10 beats more per minute for each centigrade the temperature goes up. The internal temperature of our bodies also increase.
What’s important to note is that the rate at which our heartbeat increases also increases as temperature rises. At over 90 degrees, the increase isn’t just 10 beats per minute per centigrade increase, it becomes more than that.
This means that the heart has to work harder and harder, in order to pump enough blood to all our body parts and organs. The longer you workout, the more stress that’s placed on the heart.
Sweat comes as a result of the body regulating its internal temperature. The hotter it gets the more you sweat. This is also why we don’t sweat in cool climates.
With sweat however, out comes minerals. The more we sweat, the more the body loses electrolytes, among which the most well known are sodium, potassium and calcium.
This is why athletes drink sports drinks, in order to replenish not only the fluids lost during play but also the electrolytes.
Staying Safe During Hot Workouts
Now that we know how the body is affected by the heated environment, people who have heart problems should be very careful of any type of hot workout. The excess work done by the heart during these situations can result in potential health issues.
You should always understand your current health condition, as well as your body’s limitations. This way you can be safe and get the benefits of exercise.
This holds true for athletes who run or train in hot environments in order to benefit from the effects of the high temperature training, which helps them sweat as soon as they start running in the race, or competing.
And whenever you lose fluids through sweat, always make sure to hydrate with water or drinks that contain electrolytes, like sports drinks, that will replenish what you lost.
Issues with Hot Workouts
While working out or training in high heat environments can help you perform better or achieve better/faster results, there are a number of concerns that come with it.
It Can Worsen Existing Medical Conditions
Studies done by researchers have found that exposing the body to high temperature environments can cause existing medical conditions to worsen. Something that is currently under control can get out of control quickly.
This can also cause conditions and injuries ranging from a mild case of muscle cramps to something that’s more dangerous like heat stroke if you stay in that environment for long periods of time.
Another risk is that which is related to heat exhaustion. While the human body is able to adjust to heat, it can only do so to a certain level, and for a specific period of time.
The longer it stays stressed, the more nutrients are depleted, the more the body is adversely affects.
Some symptoms of heat exhaustion include, dizziness, weakness, fainting, nausea, vomiting and headaches.
Increase in Blood Pressure
Just as individuals who have heart issues aren’t advised to engage in hot workouts, those who suffer from hypertension, or high blood pressure, should also avoid this type of workout.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, you should always take caution when it comes to matters concerning hot workouts or doing any physical activity with the temperature going that high.
Doing so may cause your blood pressure to rise to undesired levels, which can lead to more serious issues not only to the heart but also to your organs.
Not for Expecting Mothers
Finally, pregnant women should not involve themselves in any type of hot workout. The reason for this is because their bodies are not as stable as it normally would have been, due to pregnancy. Engaging in any type of physical activity in high temperature environments cause put both mother and unborn child at risk.
Benefits of Hot Workouts
While working out in high temperature environments do pose risks, it has its advantages too.
Some of the benefits of hot workouts include:
It will Make You Sweat Profusely
A lot of sweating. When this happens, a lot of toxins in the body gets flushed out with sweat though the pores of our skin. The skin is the largest organ in the body and functions not only to protect us but also expel waste as well as organisms that can be harmful to our bodies.
Research has found that it is only sweat that is able to remove trace amounts of mercury, arsenic and lead from the body.
It is also believed that sweating cools the body so that one stays on a stable condition.
Endurance and Ability to Adapt to Hot Environments
The change in temperature and the exposure of the body to excess heat helps it adapt to hot climates better. This helps you to endure the hot weather since you have got the experience from the hot workouts.
Proven Benefits of Hot Yoga
Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and lower the risk of heart disease. It has the ability to reduce arterial stiffness, and improve insulin resistance.
Further research have also shown that high temperature yoga improves our lipid profile, helps in weight loss, and improves the shape of one’s body. In addition, it boosts psychological well being as well as how we physically feel and function.
While these benefits are impressive, we can’t be sure how much of it is due to yoga itself and how much is because of the hot environment. So the verdict on these health benefits aren’t clear.
People who love the hot workouts should always make sure that their bodies are always hydrated. The body will experience an increased amount of sweat which not only depletes the body’s water levels but also the nutrients and minerals that help keep everything balanced.
Just as importantly, always listen to your body so that you can be on the safe side during any type of exercise.