There are some benefits of exercising in the heat for fitness, in particular, the short term effects on the heart.
Exercising in a high temperature (over 32 deg), regularly for 5-10 days at a moderate level for 60 minutes causes a heat adaptation effect, which means that your body increases circulating blood volume and your heart is able to pump more efficiently when in high temperatures.
Great if you’re an athlete!
This improves fitness performance in the short term, however, this performance improvement is only really limited to high performance athletes and not the average person. In addition, more training in the heat does produce further improvements in performance and training in the heat needs to continue in order to maintain improvements. So fitness training in the heat is good in preparation for an event or if the event you are participating in is in the heat, but not for long term fitness.
Great for weight loss
The other potential benefit of exercising in high temperatures is weight loss. Exercising at the same intensity in hot temperatures does use more energy than the same exercise intensity exercise in colder temperatures.
However, it is hard to maintain the same level of intensity of exercise at high temperatures compared to low temperature, so the effects balance out.
Sweating itself is a passive process and doesn’t mean that you are working harder and burning more energy. Bikram Yoga doesn’t burn much more kilojoules than regular yoga and burns a lot less kilojoules than regular cardio training.
It’s up to you what you enjoy doing, but it’s all about sustainability. If you can maintain this as part of your lifestyle then the benefits will be worth it.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com