I love summer, even when it gets hot! Well, I mean “hot” by San Diego standards. As temperatures rise, many gyms crank up the AC, figuring that keeping the gyms super-cool will attract more people to work out in a “comfortable” environment. Plus, it keeps the cleaning bills down (less sweat to wipe off the machines, right?).
The trouble is, artificially cooling down your body by blowing cold air around while you’re working out may NOT be the best idea. Here’s why.
1. Working out in the cold actually slows your metabolism. If you’re working to build muscle and burn fat, research suggest you’re better off exercising in warm weather. Research performed at the Hyperbaric Environmental Adaptation Program of the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Md., found that some of the bodily processes involved in fat metabolism were actually slowed down by the effects of relatively cold temperatures on human tissue. The study, published in the journal Sports Medicine, concluded that “the slowdown in metabolic processes might be linked to the constriction of blood vessels in the peripheral fatty tissues when exercise is done in the cold.”
2. Cold temperatures can lead to pulled or strained muscles. Everyone knows you should warm up before attempting vigorous excercise. Many athletes often jog for 5-10 minutes in addition to stretching their muscles to get their core temperature up. All good. But, what if you’re working out in a winter wonderland? Well, colder temperatures may force your body into “heat conservation mode,” reducing the effect of any warm up stretching of the muscles, especially in your extremities. This is because, when it’s cooler, your body draws heat inward, toward your internal organs, to protect and regulate your core temperature. That leaves your arms and legs vulnerable to muscle strains and pulls. Low temperatures can also reduce muscle strength, blood flow, and balance. Not good things when you’re in the gym!
3. More sweat = more benefits for your body. It’s true. Sweating is just your body’s natural way of regulating your temperature. The hotter it gets, the more you sweat. When you sweat, you breathe faster, your heart pumps faster, your circulation improves and your metabolism increases. Because circulation accelerates during sweating, many of the toxins and impurities stored in your body are released through pores in the skin. Sweat contains small amounts of antibiotics, which can fight bacteria on your skin and even reduce sun damage. Also, when you sweat, your body’s muscles are warmed up by humidity and heat, which helps to release the stress and fatigue brought on by muscle tension related to your workout. In short, sweat is cleansing, aids weight loss, prevents injury, relieves stress, unclogs pores and improves your skin.
Given all of the above, why would you want to work out in an super-cooled facility? Not only is it potentially harmful to your muscles, it might actually work against your body’s natural processes, making it harder for you to reach your fitness goals.
At Dimensional Fitness Concepts, we have AC and we use it during the summer, but we never set the temperature so cold that it could potentially harm clients! And we’re not afraid of a little sweat. It’s good for you!
For more information, call us at 760-659-0082 for a free consultation with a certified personal fitness trainer.