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Why Working Out in Hot and Humid Conditions is Good for You

Not that you need another justification to click "book" on that trip to Thailand... but did you know there are benefits to working out in a hot and humid climate?

If you are careful not to work out when the temperature and humidity begin to rise, you're missing out on an excellent opportunity to improve your athletic performance. You won't mind wiping away a little sweat once you understand why heat can be your best workout buddy.

Why It's Good to Work Out in Hot and Humid Conditions 

If you're looking to intensify your workouts, you may gain significant benefits by working out in the heat, such as an increase in oxygen, blood volume, and temperature tolerance. You may find that the changes give you a larger reserve of strength and stamina for exercise or your favorite sport. 

How to Make Your Workout More Effective 

It's crucial to understand that when you raise the temperature in your workout environment, inadvertently, you're increasing your body's core temperature. That temperature, however, has to stay in a designated safety range. 

So, resist the urge to instantly swap your typical workout for an extended training session in the heat. Instead, start small. Then, increase the time you spend in higher temperatures incrementally. Gradual progress will give your body a chance to adjust. 

Health Benefits of Working Out in Hot and Humid Environments 

For decades, elite athletes have sought elevated training facilities to trigger the production of more red blood cells. The more red blood cells, the more oxygen there is available. So, high-altitude training has been a legal way to alter the body's chemistry. Now, athletes are discovering heated workouts. 

More Blood Flow 

The benefits of heated workouts are so similar to the advantages of high-altitude conditioning that it can be an excellent alternative. There's evidence that heat training increases your body's volume of plasma, while the heart gets better at sending oxygen to your muscles. Both functions give your body more ability to regulate its temperature. 

The heat also makes your blood vessels more pliable. They can expand to accommodate increased blood flow.

Unfortunately, moving even temporarily to a mountain training facility isn't feasible for most athletes. It's more convenient and less costly to add heated workouts to their regimen. 

Higher V02 Max 

Heat training may also be more efficient at raising your V02 max, the amount of oxygen you use during a workout. The higher your V02 max, the more efficient you are at burning oxygen. 

More Efficient Sweating and Body Temperature Control 

You may notice that you begin sweating earlier in your sessions than usual. That response is your body's mechanism for controlling its temperature. As your body starts generating sweat more efficiently, you'll likely find that you can exercise for longer. To help your body perform at the highest level, “water won't cut it for hydration. Make sure you're replenishing your electrolyte levels with sports drinks, supplements, and salt so you can keep your body properly fueled for warmer workouts” says Elora Sullivan, coach at Queens Training Club and instructor at Hit House, who spent time training and fighting in Thailand. 

Greater Tolerance for Cold Weather 

An unexpected added benefit of working out in hot temperatures is that it can improve performance under other difficult atmospheric conditions. You might think training in hot weather would make you less tolerant of the cold. The opposite seems to be the case as athletes conditioning in high temperatures has increased V02 max when exercising in cold weather. 

Ways to Work Out in Hot and Humid Environments 

You can use your body to increase your heat, rely on natural weather conditions, or use a heated indoor environment. 

Body Heat 

In most places, the weather for an early morning outdoor training session can be relatively cool. But you can turn your program into a heated workout by simply performing a more challenging routine to raise your core body temperature. 

Natural Weather Conditions 

Another easy way to add heat to your sessions is by scheduling them during the day when the heat and humidity are slightly outside your comfort zone. You'll want to lower the intensity you used for the early morning cool weather sessions. 

When you begin any version of heat training, you want to reduce your workload. Introducing heat training while maintaining your usual routine could place too much stress on your body. 

Heated Indoor Environment 

A simple method to take advantage of heat is using temperature-controlled interiors. As a beginner, you could experiment with concluding your workouts with some time in a sauna.

Another, more dynamic way to use heat is working out in a climate-controlled area. Years ago, that may have meant running up your utility bill by blasting your HVAC at home. Today, heat training is considerably more convenient. 

For example, you could use an infrared-heated fitness studio. The readily available heat can allow you to achieve fitness goals in less time using your favorite exercise routines, such as isometrics and high-intensity interval training.

Just remember to "replenish the electrolytes you lose while sweating." Muay Thai fighter and coach Chrissy Albanese echos Sullivan's advice to find "good electrolyte powder packets" and put into your water during and after training.

Visit Hit House's neighbors HOTWORX in Greenwich Village to try some of your favorite workouts in infrared-heated classroom. You can also try heated yoga at our Bowery neighbors at Heatwise.

all photos courtesy of Pexels


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