In some parts of the country, even the world, hot yoga is all the rage, which is why you’ve probably heard of it. But you may not be clear on what a hot workout entails or if there are any benefits to turning up the heat during a workout. You may also be surprised to learn that yoga isn’t the only type of exercise where you can benefit from turning up the heat. So, let’s break down what hot workouts are, where you can find them, and what they’re good for.
What is a Hot Workout?
A “hot workout” is a workout you perform in temperatures that are greater than your normal comfortable temps. For example, your workout can take place in an environment that is anywhere from 85 degrees up to 100 degrees or even more.
The idea behind such workouts is to increase your perceived level of exertion while loosening up your body, ramping up your metabolism, and helping you sweat it out.
What are the Benefits of a Hot Workout?
The benefits are many. Besides the normal benefits of a great workout, there are some additional benefits you may experience when engaging in hot workouts.
- Burn more calories—yes, that’s correct. Studies show that you can actually burn up to 10 more calories per hour by doing a hot workout.
- Sweat out impurities—even better than a sauna, a hot workout allows you to get exercise at the same time as your body releases toxins and sweats them away. Now you can cleanse your body from the inside-out while reaping the benefits of additional cleansing by sweating it out in some hot workout classes.
- Reduce stress—it’s a known fact that exercise releases endorphins and helps you reduce stress in your life. There is some evidence that turning up the heat helps even more by increasing your body’s ability to deal with tension and release toxins.
- Better sleep—studies show better sleep patterns associated with hot workouts, especially yoga. Yoga, in and of itself, has so many health benefits, it’s hard to talk about the benefits of exercise without mentioning it.
- Arterial stiffness—hot workouts purportedly help increase circulation. Since your body tends to be more flexible in the heat, your arteries are as well.
- Glucose tolerance—these levels improved in older overweight adults when performing hot workouts!
- Better exercise performance—studies done on trained cyclists showed that if they trained in abnormally hot environments and became acclimated to such workouts, once they returned to normal temp training, their performance improved by as much as 8 percent.
- Flexibility—warmer muscles showed greater flexibility.
- Increased intensity—some folks feel a workout in artificially high temperatures ramps up the intensity of their workouts.
- Changes it up—mixing up your workouts can give your body a rest from its normal routines. A hot workout can be a much-needed break from your normal exercise regimen.
- Feel-good factor—breaking a sweat just plain makes you feel good. It makes you feel like you accomplished something, and your workout time was well spent. Whether or not you burned extra calories or made other gains and improvements you wouldn’t have in a normal temperature environment doesn’t matter. The fact remains, you feel cleansed, de-stressed, loosened up, and amazing!
What are the Dangers of a Hot Workout?
Of course, there are some precautions you should take if you’re going to engage in hot workouts. Hot workouts are not for everyone, so it’s important to keep an eye on how you’re feeling throughout. Never be afraid to back off and take a break if you feel you need it.
- It’s easy to overheat. So be careful to monitor how you feel, and work up to both longer and hotter workouts over time. It’s not necessary to get crazy about the temperature, either. Typical hot workouts are often around 85 degrees.
- Wear breathable clothing. You may have seen folks working out in what looks like trash bag outfits or plastic suits. This is just not healthy and can cause you to quickly overheat because your body has no way of getting rid of the extra heat that builds up.
- You could become dehydrated. Drinking enough fluids, and in particular, getting sufficient electrolytes is critical if you decide to indulge in hot workouts. Make sure you continue to sip your water or sports drink regularly throughout your workout. It’s also a great idea to drink extra water both before and after your workout.
- You can feel dizzy. If you start to feel dizzy or “not yourself,” by all means, stop what you’re doing, and take a break. This is not normal and not a feeling you should be going for.
- Humidity can make the heat too intense. Keep the humidity low if the temps are high. Hot and humid conditions could just push you over the edge since humidity makes it more difficult for your body to release heat. That said, some yoga classes, for example, do feature both heat and excess humidity. If this is the class you want to try, just keep in mind that the high humidity can intensify the stress on your body and exacerbate any issues you may have.
- May exacerbate certain medical conditions. Folks with high blood pressure or heart conditions should NOT participate in hot workouts. In fact, if you have any medical condition, definitely check with your physician before participating in such workouts.
- Can increase risk of injury. Over-stretching and injuring yourself is a real possibility. Because your muscles are so warm and loose, it’s easy to push things a little too far and end up straining your muscles unnecessarily.
- Pregnant women should proceed with caution, so please check with your doctor before attempting any hot workouts if you think you may be expecting.
What Kind of Hot Workouts Can You Do?
Technically, you can take any workout and heat it up. Just taking it outside in the middle of summer can constitute a hot workout. But, there are some workouts which are specifically designed to be done in a very warm environment. Here are a few examples:
- Hot yoga including Bikram yoga, Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga, Moksha, and Hot Power Yoga
- Heated spin class
- Heated TRX suspension classes
So, now you know what a hot workout is! If it sounds like it might be for you, just remember to take things slowly, listen to your body, stay hydrated, mix things up, and as always, have fun!