When it comes to exercise, it may seem like working out in an air-conditioned facility is best for you so that you don’t overheat. However, some health experts suggest that training in the heat can actually boost your performance. What does research say?
Research Confirms It
In a 2010 study conducted on 20 cyclists at the University of Oregon in the U.S., eight of these athletes trained in a 55 degree Fahrenheit environment (or just under 13 degrees Celsius) and the remaining twelve worked out in 100 degree Fahrenheit temperatures (which is around 38 degrees Celsius). Testing showed that the individuals working out in the warmer temps increased their performance by six percent and their VO2max by five percent when engaging in exercise in cooler temps at later times.
Another study published in the European Journal of Applied Physics in 2012 found similar results. This bit of research involved rowers who trained in 40 C rooms with 60% humidity which ultimately resulted in a 1.5 percent increase in performance. It’s possible that the smaller gain is due to the fact that these subjects weren’t training to very high levels as the researchers didn’t want their bodies to overheat.
How Does Heat Help?
What makes heat so beneficial when training in it? Part of the reason may be because increasing the heat also increases your plasma which, in turn, means greater output from your heart. It is also suggested that mild dehydration causes some of the effects.
However, the last thing you want to do when training in the heat is lose enough water to suffer from heat stroke as this can greatly damage your internal organs and even end your life if you’re not careful. Therefore, if you’re inclined to train in the heat to experience increased performance, don’t do it all of the time and don’t allow your body to get too hot. This is one case where less is more.