Exercising In The Heat May Not Be Helping You Get Results

Uh oh.
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Here’s your excuse to forgo the sweltering weather and work out inside today.

Not only is exercising in a hot climate unpleasant, preliminary research from the University of Nebraska at Omaha suggests that it might not be as effective as working out in cooler settings.

Researchers are examining exercise’s effect on a person’s mitochondria ― the components of cells that help produce energy ― in muscle cells in order to figure out how much of an impact temperatures can have on fitness progress. To do this, the authors took a tissue sample from 36 participants both before and after they worked out in temperate, hot and cold environments.

What they’ve found so far is that there’s little to no development in the mitochondria after a hot workout, defined as 91 degrees Fahrenheit. This could imply that exercising in heat may not help with building muscle or contribute to overall health, Dustin Silvka, study author and exercise physiology laboratory director at the University of Nebraska at Omaha told HuffPost.

“In fact, the response [in heat is] about the same as if no exercise had occurred,” Silvka explained.

Of course, as Silvka points out, this is just with one workout. Obviously, the more you exercise, the more you change your body ― even in the heat. Silvka and his team plan to account for this as they continue their research, and will observe how participants’ muscles respond to exercise in hot temperatures after a three week training period.

“It is possible that after a period of acclimation that the skeletal muscle response becomes more favorable,” Silvka said.

Overall, more research needs to be conducted before Silvka and his team reach any definitive outcomes. The study authors have spent approximately six months on the research thus far and will continue running experiments through September. The team will then analyze the data for a year before submitting their conclusions for publication.

That being said, the results do offer some preliminary insight into how weather can impact your performance. Previous studies suggest that working out in the cold can help with heart health and potentially burns more calories. And warmer workouts may have a psychological benefit given they encourage time in the great outdoors (and that comes with science-backed perks of its own).

“If we can optimize the outcomes of exercise by simply adjusting the temperature in which exercise is performed we can have a very positive impact on many lives,” Silvka said.

But don’t let any of this deter you from pursuing the workout you enjoy best. Any form of exercise, in any climate, is better than none at all.

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