The Pros and Cons of Exercising in the Heat

Working up a sweat is an indication of a great workout. You are moving your body and feeling the sweat drip down the side of your face and back. Not only is sweat cooling, but it is also a great way to purge toxins that build up in the body. So, is exercising in the heat a good idea?

It might be tempting to head to an air-conditioned gym. But, at the same time, an outdoor summer exercise session can also be a great way to work on your health. Continue reading to learn more – then you can decide if it’s a good idea for you to exercise in the heat.

Always Talk to Your Doctor

Before we share the pros and cons of exercising in the heat, it’s important to point out this disclaimer: always talk to your doctor before starting a new workout routine.

Exercise offers numerous health benefits and can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. But you need to be smart about choosing the activities. Consider your fitness levels to decide the level of exercise that is right for you.

Benefits of Exercising in the Heat

Here are a few reasons why you might choose to exercise in a hot environment:

  • Increase Blood Flow: When you move in hot conditions, it increases the blood flow to the skin. This reaction makes it easier for the body to cool itself. When you get used to the heat, it can give you an advantage in your competition performance or personal milestones.
  • Physical Adaptations: Exercising in the heat causes a chain reaction of adaptations within the body. For example, plasma volume expands, myocardial efficiency improves, and more.
  • Fast Physical Gains: When you add heat to the exercise, it increases the stress load on your body. This stress can be positive because it can play a role in current and future performance. For example, some athletes find that they have an easier time at a race when they are already adapted to changing temperatures and conditions.
  • Psychological Benefits: Besides the physical benefits, it’s also worth noting the psychological benefits you gain from a challenging workout. As you are consistent with pushing your limits, it helps you get comfortable with the discomfort of competition and training. Not only is your body working harder, but your brain also starts working harder – which has positive benefits overall.

Even though it is uncomfortable (especially in the beginning), adding heat to your workout routine can help you take your fitness levels to the next level.

Drawbacks of Exercising in the Heat

It’s essential to understand the potential risks of physical activities in the heat. Here are a few things you need to watch for:

  • Physical Discomfort: Many people find it uncomfortable to spend any amount of time in the heat. Sometimes, the natural instinct is to get out of the heat, which can be a distraction to your workout. But there are many physical benefits if you choose to push through the discomfort.
  • Heat Exhaustion: If you aren’t proactive with hydration and adjusting your workout routine, you could increase your risk for heat exhaustion. The sweat loss takes a toll on your physical wellness and can lead to a variety of symptoms.
  • Sweaty Mess: The increased temperature definitely ramps up the amount that you are sweating. Since the body is working to control core temperature, you will likely start pouring sweat during the workout. Some people don’t like the way they look when sweating heavily. Additionally, the sweat can cause skin irritation if the wet clothes start rubbing on the skin.

Safety Tips When Exercising in the Heat

Keep in mind that the heat can be intense, especially in the beginning. You must learn to adapt. Start out slow, then increase the heat and intensity with time. As you are consistent with your hot workouts, your body will become more responsive to the demands you are facing.

Follow these tips to protect your health when you are working out in the heat:

  • Stay Hydrated: You need to replace the water you are losing. Hydrate well before your exercise session. Also, make sure to continue drinking water during your workout. A general rule of thumb is to drink 4 – 6 ounces of water every 15 – 20 minutes. Always rehydrate after the exercise session.
  • Start Gradually: Set a training schedule, so you gradually increase the time and intensity when exercising in the heat. Also, be gentle with yourself. In the beginning, you will likely notice that your performance is negatively affected by the heat. But things will start to pick up again as your body adapts.
  • Invest in the Right Clothing: Certain types of clothing are hot and uncomfortable during a heated workout. Skip the cotton shirt and choose a lightweight fabric instead. Light colors reflect the sun. Look for wicking fabrics that help with sweat evaporation and reduce skin irritation.
  • Replace Electrolytes: Not only do you need to stay ahead of your water consumption, but sweating also causes you to lose minerals. Electrolytes are essential for health. You might consider an electrolyte supplement to mix in your water. Or, choose a sports drink instead of plain water. Low doses of electrolytes can be helpful for replacing potassium, sodium, and chloride.
  • Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion: Watch for symptoms that your body temperature is reaching dangerous levels. Familiarize yourself with the signs of heatstroke, such as nausea, muscle cramping, and feeling light-headed. If you notice these symptoms, then you should increase your hydration, take a break, and step into a cooler environment.

Enjoy an Air-Conditioned Gym

If exercising in the heat doesn’t sound appealing to you, then look for other ways to stay consistent with your fitness routine. Our air-conditioned gym offers a comfortable environment where you can enjoy a good workout without overheating in the sun. Join Fitness Nation today to access top-notch fitness equipment in a fun, supportive environment.