According to an exercise scientist, the best temp to work out

AndRecently, an editor at Well+Good received a hot tip from a celebrity trainer that exercising in cooler temperatures (specifically, a room with the AC cranking) can help improve your workouts by preventing you from overheating. The idea is that it helps you continue to perform at optimal levels for longer periods of time.

However, if this is true, why are so many fitness brands offering hot classes these days for everything from Pilates (Selena Gomez’s favorite) to yoga to HIIT? What is the best temperature to actually work?

The answer, according to Brittany Masteller, PhD, research scientist at OrangeTheory Fitness, is surprisingly similar to the ideal range for getting a good night’s sleep. “High-intensity workouts are safest to do in a temperature-controlled space of about 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Dr. Masteller. (Experts say about 68°F is the chef’s kiss for sleep.) That’s especially true for certain populations, such as pregnant women and people with breathing problems like asthma, he said.

Of course, however, there are exceptions to every rule, including this one.

How temperature affects your workout performance

In its essence, exercise puts a stress on the body, and different workouts are designed to stress your body in different ways to adapt. For example, when you’re lifting heavy weights, you’re taxing your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which helps them get stronger. Or, when you do vigorous aerobic exercise like sprinting or HIIT, you force your heart, lungs, and circulatory system (aka the cardiorespiratory system) to work harder, increasing your maximum oxygen uptake or Vo2 max. Both of these are beneficial for your overall health.

Likewise, changing your workout temperature above or below 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit can help your body adapt in a positive way, as long as you’re properly hydrated, fueled and fit to do so according to your doctor. The primary benefit of both hot and cold workouts is that they increase the cardio factor of the exercise you’re doing because they force your brain and heart to work harder to keep your body in homeostasis. “The human body has ways of doing this, like sweating when it’s hot, or shivering when it’s cold,” says Dr. Masteller.

“Fitness classes that are mostly low-impact don’t tend to raise the heart rate as much because of the nature of the exercise,” he adds, “so adding heat to a low-intensity workout adds another level of difficulty without changing the exercise. Prescription.” It tacks on a heart-healthy component to a workout that might not otherwise be considered aerobic.

FYI: It takes an average person 10 to 14 days to acclimate to working in hot and humid conditions. But once you do, it brings several benefits: “In people accustomed to exercising in hot and humid conditions, research shows heat transfer from the core of the body to the environment, improved cardiovascular function, more effective sweating, and improved exercise. Performance and heat tolerance, ” says Dr. Masteller.

On the other hand, just like in the heat, exercising in the cold makes your heart work harder to pump blood, which raises your heart rate and can improve cardiorespiratory fitness over time—even if you’re just going to eat hot (cold?) girl walking in winter. . Just be sure to dress appropriately, says Dr. Masteller, to keep warm without overheating because there’s nothing cool about hypothermia.

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