Some Like It Hot
While starting our cool down after the first class, someone said they felt really hot, a normal response to an hour-long workout. If you exercise, you sweat. Everyone in the group chimed in that they felt hot too.
Someone wondered if CBF might become like the yoga cult in which people perform poses half-naked in a room heated to suffocating levels typically found in a sauna. Then we realized we had forgotten to turn the fans on before class. Duh… This has been a very hot summer, requiring big fans to blowing from every direction, almost every day, to keep everyone cooled as much as possible.
Actually, heating up your body, whether through exercise or heating the air around you, can have several health benefits. Sweating cleans pores, helps expel toxins, kills some viruses and bacteria, and promotes good blood circulation.
However, heat can become a problem during exercise. Just like your car engine when you press the accelerator, when you exercise hard the uptick in energy production inside the mitochondria in your muscles produces heat as a byproduct. Your brain is hard-wired to tolerate only small fluctuations in your core body temperature, but will automatically take steps to bring it down if it starts to drift too high during exercise.
One step is sweating. Two others are the blood vessels widen and blood is shunted to the skin, which is why you get flushed. The blood on the surface of your skin releases heat as it is cooled by the evaporation of your sweat.
Exercising in the heat places special stress on your circulatory system because it is both trying to get blood to the surface for cooling and more blood to the muscles to provide energy. Thus your pulse gets higher as you get hotter.
Generally, fitter people sweat more profusely because they are able to sustain a higher work rate, which burns more energy and requires more heat dissipation.
There are two keys to working out when it’s hot. First, when you’re in the gym, ease back your effort a little when the sweat starts to flow.
Second, drink lots of water one hour before you come in for your workout. Being fully hydrated keeps your blood plasma volume up so your heart doesn’t need to work any harder than necessary. If you drink too much, you’ll have to pee. No sweat, take a potty break.
The water you drink in the gym during breaks will taste good and cool you a little, but it will not transit through your gut into your bloodstream fast enough to fully offset what you are losing by sweating. That’s why you want to be max-hydrated on hot days before you enter the gym.
Subjecting your body to stresses like heat makes you more resilient. You might not ever love it, but you might learn to like it.
Meantime, keep the fans on.