It’s a question many of us are likely to ponder over the holiday period: do you burn more calories exercising in the heat?
After all, we’re likely to be indulging a little bit more at this time of year, particularly when it comes to functions and Christmas lunches.
So, needing to burn a few more calories, the news is good news.
Put simply, yes, you do burn more calories – and fat – when running in the heat.
Why? It’s all about the sweat factor.
In short, to help regulate its temperature, your body usually sweats more when working out in hot conditions.
And, the more you sweat, the harder your heart – and body – work to pump blood to the surface of your skin to keep you cool.
What’s more, according to the Australian Institute of Sport , men sweat more than women, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that women do a better job of regulating their body temperature than men.
In fact, because women sweat less – they might not burn as many calories as men, plus it means there’s less opportunity for the body to expel heat.
This means women might need to do more than simply hydrate to cope with running in the heat. The AIS suggested: “sponging the body with cool water, wearing clothes that do not hold heat and if all else fails, reducing exercise intensity”.
Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA), added you are also likely to sweat more if:
- You are on the larger side;
- Temperatures are hot and humid;
- Your exercise intensity increases; and
- Fitter runners generally start to sweat sooner.
While running in the heat might sound like a simple way to drop a few buckets of sweat and therefore kilos on the track, it is a pursuit that should be carried out with caution.
Be careful when running long distances in the heat and take breaks when you need. Photo: Getty
If your core temperature gets too hot, you might begin to experience fatigue, weakness, dizziness, nausea and muscle cramps.
These could be signs of dehydration and, worse, heat stroke.
The risks? For some people, this can be life threatening.
If you do experience any of these symptoms, you should stop running, cool yourself with water and shade, rehydrate and see a doctor.
To avoid reaching this point the first thing to focus on is correct summer training hydration.
According to SDA guidelines, fluid is critical for maintaining blood volume during exercise, regulating body temperature and for muscle contraction.
The key is to begin your run well hydrated.
Try to sip water regularly the day before your run and during the day leading up to your session.
Then, follow an individual hydration plan while your run – this could include sipping water or sports drink depending on the type of training you do, advised SDA.
Afterwards, rehydrate as you are unlikely to replace 100 per cent of fluid loses during exercise.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated. Photo: Getty
Remember, a good way to tell if you’re well hydrated is the colour of your urine – if it’s dark you are not getting enough fluid.
Secondly, what you eat before, during and after running in the heat is important to ensure sufficient energy, body function, muscle repair, and an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals.
“Training diets should be set out by an accredited practising dietitian and be based on quality carbohydrate (from breads, cereals and pasta), moderate amounts of protein, small amounts of fats (such as those found in oily fish, poly and monounsaturated fats and oils), and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables,” SDA outlined.
Finally, train smart when running in the heat.
Stick to loop tracks that pass by water fountains and shaded sections.
Run to feel rather than pace to allow for variables in the forecast and your adaption to high temperatures.
Hit the trails early and late in the day to avoid peak temperatures.
And, take it indoors and use a treadmill if it’s too hot to run outside.
It’s hot outside, finally. And while for plenty of people that signals a trip to a pub garden – large glass of cold white wine in hand – others may want to retain more of a balanced lifestyle.
The thing is, the idea of working out in hot weather is quite unappealing; with heat and humidity comes serious sweat and an unrelenting desire to lie naked on the floor of an air-conditioned room. So is there a bodily benefit to exercising in a heatwave? Something that actually makes it worthwhile? You might have heard that working out in the heat burns more calories, so we wanted to get to the bottom of whether that’s actually true or not.
- 5 Things to Know about Burning More Calories
- How to burn more calories?
- Do you burn more calories exercising in the cold? Here’s what the science says.
- Do You Burn More Calories In The Heat?
- The Skinny On Hot Workouts
- Potential Benefits
- Does Sweating Burn More Calories?
- Does More Sweat Mean You Burn More Calories? Surprising Sweat Myths
- True or False? See if You Can Tell The Sweat Myths from the Truths
So, do you burn more calories in heat?
The answer, annoyingly, is ‘possibly’. Dr Preethi Daniel, Clinical Director at London Doctors Clinic, tells Cosmopolitan UK it’s all to do with your basal metabolic rate. This is “the amount of energy we expend per unit time at rest, or a measure of how quickly you break down fuels (calories) to keep your cells running,” she clarifies.
Doctor Preethi explains that the basal metabolic rate can vary with activity levels, but notes that in theory it’s also movable depending on the weather and climate. “Warmer weather may cause a slight increase in the basal metabolic rate, helping you burn those calories a little bit faster, because the body is working extra hard to keep you cool,” the doctor says.
However, there are no firm scientific studies to prove exactly how many more calories you would burn.
Greg Drach, CEO of running community myCrew and ultra marathon runner, also points out that any increase in calorie burn you might see as a result of warm surroundings would probably only last a short amount of time anyway – because the body learns to adjust.
“Someone who may not be used to working out in hot weather may burn more calories than someone who has been practicing for a long time, however over time your body will condition to work less hard under such temperatures and your calories burnt during the workout will naturally decrease,” he tells Cosmopolitan UK.
He also notes that, while you might feel more satisfied after a hot workout (just think of the sweat), “in terms of effectivity and results you can achieve a better workout without the extra heat” because you will be able to endure exercise for a longer period of time.
Should you exercise in hot weather, then?
It’s super important to remember that if you do decide to work out in high temperatures, the need for hydration is extra important.
“The overall end effect might be more satisfying, but exercising in a heatwave is riskier as you can de-hydrate or get a heat stroke,” warns Greg.
“Make the most of your workout in the heat by wearing the right clothing (a white breathing cap and light workout outfit), stay hydrated, and try not to workout out in the middle of the day, but rather aim for early morning or late evening workouts,” the running expert advises.
And with that, you can go enjoy the sun (whether that means lying down on a picnic blanket or going for a 10k run).
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Catriona Harvey-Jenner Digital Features Editor Cat is Cosmopolitan UK’s features editor covering women’s issues, health and current affairs.
Hot yoga. Hot Pilates. Heated dance cardio. Warm Spin studios. Everywhere you turn, there’s a boutique studio fitness class turning up the temperature and leaving you a sweaty, disgusting mess by the end of your workout. But it’s not actually helping you reach your weight-loss goals (if weight loss is your goal, that is).
“Exercising in a cool environment actually contributes to greater caloric expenditure than exercising in a warm environment,” celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, MSc, told POPSUGAR. The New York Times bestselling author was debunking fitness myths left and right at the Fitbit summit in New York last week, and he gave us some details on why a cold workout is more optimal.
“There’s no need to be in a hot room and having your shirt dripping in sweat in order to burn fat,” he said. “You burn way more fat in a cold room than in a hot room, exercising in a cooler environment is more conducive to caloric expenditure and fat metabolism.”
His claims are rooted in and backed by science; a 1997 study showed how cooler temperatures can combat obesity, and a 2014 study showed that “cold exposure increases energy expenditure.” We also know that cold temperatures promote the increase of brown fat in the body — the “good kind” of fat to have — which can increase your metabolism.
One of the best ways you can try this is by getting outside. “Now that we’re heading into Fall or Winter, don’t be afraid to go outside and go for a great walk; there’s no better time to do it,” Harley said. “We’re approaching the season where there’s nothing better than a brisk evening walk.” Or you can follow Harley’s own method and walk early in the morning (when it’s cool) to go get your coffee — and your 10,000 steps.
So does this mean we have to skip hot yoga? “Don’t skip Bikram yoga if you really enjoy and it makes you really happy,” he said, “but don’t look at it as a place where you’re going to be burning calories. The hot temperature is about keeping your muscles loose and pliable, not to burn more calories.”
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kathryna Hancock
You know that the hot, sometimes humid weather affects your running differently than those crisp, cool October temps. During the summer, you may feel that the weather increases your perceived effort and decreases your overall performance, but do you actually burn more calories in the heat?
For instance, a 9-minute mile might feel like an easy pace in colder weather, but if you run a 9-minute mile in high heat and humidity, it feels a little harder—so will this change the ratio of fats to carbs you’re burning and increase your need for carbs?
Let’s review some basics to start. In general, you burn a mix of fat and carbs when you exercise. The more intense the exercise, the more that mix shifts toward carbs and away from fat. So the “first approximation” answer is that since running a 9-minute mile requires a higher intensity in hot conditions than in cool conditions, you’d expect to burn a higher proportion of carbs in the heat.
But heat affects the body in a lot of different ways, so we have to ask whether the body’s fuel preferences change in hot conditions. It turns out that they do. According to a 2010 study in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, “exercise in the heat—40 degrees Celsius —increases muscle glycogen oxidation and reduces whole-body fat oxidation in comparison to the same exercise intensity performed at 20 degrees Celsius .”
This makes the effect even more pronounced. Not only does running in the heat increase your intensity (which increases the carb-to-fat ratio), but it also increases the carb-to-fat ratio even at the same intensity.
So we can say pretty definitively that running a 9-minute mile in the heat burns a higher proportion of carbs and lower proportion of fat than running at the same pace in cooler conditions. That means that if you’re planning a long run in the heat and working out your carb needs, you might want to consider a slight increase compared to what you consume in cooler conditions. (Though, of course, I’d also recommend planning training runs based on intensity rather than pace —for example, slowing down in the heat.)
But does this kind of thing matter if you’re trying to lose weight? Should you worry about the proportion of fat versus carbs that you’re burning, or just the total amounts? The focus on proportion is the fallacy underlying the idea that you should exercise at a low intensity to stay in the “fat-burning zone.” Sure, it’s true that sitting on an exercise bike and moving your legs slowly with zero resistance burns mostly fat—but 80 percent of 5 calories is still useless.
It’s much better to move to a higher intensity and get a smaller proportion of a larger total. And as you get fitter, your body’s ability to burn fat will increase, and so will the intensity at which fat burning is maximized. Here’s a graph from the above study, showing whole-body fat oxidation in the heat for trained and untrained subjects, as a function of exercise intensity:
So the goal shouldn’t be to screw around at low intensity to maximize proportional fat-burning—it should be to get fit (by training relatively hard) so that your overall rate of fat burning doubles.
The bottom line: While technically speaking, you can burn more calories in the heat because you are working at a greater intensity, the best way to ramp your fat-burning up is to get fitter. There’s no real need to worry too much about optimal fat-burning paces.
Sure, delicious holiday treats, chunky knit blankets, and endless viewing material on Netflix may be partly to blame for winter weight gain, but new research suggests less time spent in the sun could also be a contributing factor. (I knew there was *another* reason everyone escapes to the beach in the winter…)
The new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada and published in the journal Nature, found that the fat cells beneath your skin actually shrink when they’re exposed to blue light from the sun. Alternatively, less sunlight causes the cells to store more fat for warmth.
“The insufficient sunlight exposure we get living in a northern climate may be promoting fat storage and contribute to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter.” — Dr. Peter Light, senior study author
“When the sun’s blue light wavelengths—the light we can see with our eye—penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat,” said senior study author Peter Light, PhD, in a press release. “If you flip our findings around, the insufficient sunlight exposure we get eight months of the year living in a northern climate may be promoting fat storage and contribute to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter.”
Just because sunlight may have a role in helping you shed pounds doesn’t mean you should bask in it, though: Additional research to support the study findings is needed, and overdoing sun exposure can lead to serious issues like skin cancer. But, the findings open a door that could lead to medication or light-based treatments for obesity, as well as insight into conditions like diabetes, Light said.
It’s too soon to tell what will come of this research, but getting some sunlight does offer other benefits, like potentially helping you reach your weight-loss goals. Vitamin D, which you get from the sun, ensures your body properly absorbs calcium, which promotes strong bones, and also keeps your immune system strong to prevent illness, according to the Cleveland Clinic. And while it’s easy to get your daily dose of vitamin D amid the summer sunshine, the same can be pretty tough in the colder months. But, *try* to enjoy every sunny winter day you can! Science says, you guys.
Here are five reasons calorie counting won’t help you lose weight. Or, find out how to deal with people who think it’s appropriate to comment on your weight.
5 Things to Know about Burning More Calories
Eager to lose weight? Often it is said that it is easier to cut back on calories than to increase energy expenditure with exercise. There’s some truth to this.
For example, if you want to cut back on 500 Calories, you need to leave out one big chocolate bar or one Bic Mac. And if you want to burn 500 Cal by exercise, it takes on average 30 minutes tough spinning workout, 45 minutes moderate running or almost 2 hours easy swimming (a 155 lb woman).
It takes less time and effort to eat a carrot instead of a hamburger than to run for hour, however, the potential for weight loss is only one of the many benefits of exercise.
Being physically active improves your mood, relieves stress, builds muscles and reduces risk of chronic diseases to name a few. Nor does burning calories mean that you should always go to the gym or put on your running shoes.
You can increase your physical activity, energy expenditure, and overall health in various ways.
How to burn more calories?
Firstbeat Calories Burned feature tells how many calories you burn, be it during a hard workout or through daily activities. It is personalized to match your unique physiology, so, you can easily see how changes in your activity and intensity levels affect your daily energy expenditure.
From our previous blog, you can read how Firstbeat counts the calories you burn.
If you want to burn more calories, check out the following 5 points.
1. Train hard. No one can deny that hard exercise with intense effort is an effective way to rapidly increase energy expenditure. The more your bigger muscles are working, the harder they push; the more energy is consumed each minute. Challenging exercise doesn’t only increase your energy consumption during the activity but also after it, as your body works to restore itself and to adapt in preparation for the next challenge. Often called the afterburn effect, this work can be measured in the form of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).
EPOC describes how much oxygen, that is energy, your body uses to return to the resting state. The longer and more vigorous your activity, the bigger the EPOC and the afterburn effect.
EPOC is also a key measure behind Firstbeat’s Aerobic and Anaerobic Training Effect. These insights connect the dots between physical activity and its effect on your body. Training Effects (TE) of 3.0–5.0 mean that your muscles are pushing hard – and consuming lots of energy.
It’s also good to keep in mind that high-intensity exercise is essential when improving your VO2max, the defining metric of cardiorespiratory fitness. Increasing your VO2max is not just for athletes, it has a significant impact on your overall health, and can help you live longer.
2. Train slow and long. Don’t feel like doing a strenuous exercise with the intensity cranked up to 11? Don’t worry. Low-intensity exercise is a great way to burn calories as well, you just have to train longer time.
Did you know that the difference in energy expenditure is not gigantic whether you do a 5k run or walk the same distance briskly? You huff and puff more while running, but walking takes longer which helps balance things out.
So, if running is not your thing, going for a brisk walk is still a smart move.
It is also true that when working at lower intensities muscles burn a higher percentage of fat than carbohydrates. However, when we consider total energy expenditure – i.e., the afterburn effect, etc. – the direct comparison gets much more complicated.
The most important thing is that you select activities that you enjoy and that fit into your lifestyle. This way you can continue burning calories week in, week out, and maximize your benefits with consistent effort. And even if you love training hard, don’t forget that long, low-intensity exercises help build your endurance base and offer a great way to enhance recovery.
3. Be active. Your muscles don’t know if you have your running shoes or gym pants on.
All physical activity increases the calories you burn, which are all counted by Calories Burned feature. Of course, taking the stairs occasionally isn’t game-changer alone, but if you choose stairs instead of an elevator, walk to the store instead of driving, play with kids instead of watching TV… you will notice a significant difference in your daily energy expenditure! Little strokes fell great oaks!
There can be a huge difference in your daily energy expenditure, whether you go to work by bike or by car, and whether you do some training during the day.
4. Build muscles. Muscles grow through protein synthesis, which is one of the most energy consuming processes in the cell (Rolfe & Brown, 1997). If you’re building muscles, it is not just the workout itself but also the growth of muscles that consumes energy and burns calories. Additionally, muscle tissue is metabolically more active and burns more calories than fat tissue. The more muscles you have, the bigger your resting energy expenditure, which means that your body burns more calories “while doing nothing”.
If weight loss is your goal, including strength training into your exercise routine is important. This way you can improve your body composition, that is losing fat and maintaining – maybe even gaining – muscles. It’s also important to keep in mind that muscles require enough nutrients to grow. You can’t cut back on calories too much, if you want to increase your muscle mass.
5. Relieve stress and sleep well. If you are stressed or sleep deprived, it’s hard to make lifestyle changes that promote weight loss. Stress management, good sleep and nutrition go hand in hand. Where acute stress can trigger a loss of appetite and body weight, chronic stress can lead to eating too much and gaining weight (Rabasa & Dickson, 2016). Also sleep deprivation may result in consuming more calories the following day (Khatib et al. 2017). Let’s not forget that exercise is a great stress buster and reduced stress will also help you to succeed with weight loss.
Firstbeat All-day Stress & Recovery reveals the presence and intensity of stress and recovery reactions in your body during day and night. Seeing how your body responds can lead to better decisions towards a healthy, more balanced life – that will also support weight loss when that’s your goal.
Do you burn more calories exercising in the cold? Here’s what the science says.
As the temperature drops this time of year, the rich, comfort foods of winter seem just right. But as we lay about, full from our heavy winter meals, we may also dream about how to quickly burn off those extra calories.
One idea that gets bandied about is that all you have to do is exercise outside in the cold. You can find it in magazines, newspapers, and maybe your email inbox — we once got a press release from the University at Albany titled, “Winter Exercise Burns More Calories, Especially for Women.”
It is true that a cold body uses more energy to keep itself warm than a warm body. But alas, exercising in the cold isn’t the fabulous calorie burner we may think it is. Before we get to why, let’s look at the reason this idea seems so intuitive and appealing.
The body does use more energy to stay warm when it’s cold out
First, a word about a process called thermogenesis. Your body creates heat when it’s cold (usually below 32 degrees Fahrenheit but in a person wearing light clothes, it can start at temperatures as high as 70).
One way is by shivering — where the muscles involuntary contract to generate warmth, and defend your body temperature (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Or you may begin to activate “brown fat,” the kind of fat tissue whose main function is heat production. Unlike white fat, which stores heat to keep you warm, brown fat burns calories to generate heat.
“The analogy might be a oil tanker that drives on the highway compared to a sports car,” explained Aaron Cypess, a metabolism and brown fat researcher at the National Institutes of Health. “They both have fuel, or fat, but the oil tanker stores it for use later, and that’s the white fat. The sports car stores fuel to burn it, and that’s the brown fat.” The process of breaking down these lipids to release heat, and warm you up is called “non-shivering thermogenesis.”
Both shivering and brown fat activity increase your energy expenditure, causing you to burn more calories in cold temperatures.
“You don’t even know its happening,” Herman Pontzer, an associate professor at Hunter College who studies energetics, told Vox in 2017 (when we first published this piece). “It’s below the radar of your conscious thought, but it’s there ticking away.”
Exercise can produce a lot of heat on its own
Now here’s the rub: These processes only kick in to keep you warm when you’re truly cold. But once you start exercising — running or cross-country skiing, for instance — outside, you’re going to start generating heat from the physical activity. And the exercise alone may give you enough heat that your body wouldn’t burn any extra calories through shivering and brown fat.
That’s why you can go running in very cold temperatures wearing a light sweater and pants, but if you were just sitting around outside in the same cold climate, you’d need to bundle up in a heavy jacket and hat, or you’d start to shiver, to stay warm, Pontzer explained.
“The best way to use the cold to burn more calories would be to not exercise while you’re outdoors,” Pontzer added. “You’d get your brown fat cooking and making heat, and might even start shivering, all of which burns calories.”
Now, it is possible to get those energy-burning heating processes going while exercising. Cypess imagined a scenario where a person is exercising in subzero temperatures, and wearing light enough clothes, that the exercise alone isn’t keeping him warm, and thermogenesis kicks in.
But even in that case, you’d only burn a few additional calories at best, Cypess said. In studies where he’s put participants in cold rooms for entire days, they burned off an additional 150 to 200 calories. Again, that’s a full day of cold — not an hour’s worth of outdoor activity.
All physical activity only accounts for a small portion of energy burn
Of course, the most important thing to remember if you’re trying to make up for heavy meals is that physical activity makes up a surprisingly small portion of your total energy burn.
There are three major components to how many calories you burn off in a day: 1) your basal metabolic rate, or the energy used for basic functioning when the body is at rest; 2) the energy used to break down food; and 3) the energy used in physical activity. For most people, the basal metabolic rate accounts for 60 to 80 percent of total energy expenditure. Digesting food accounts for about 10 percent. That leaves only 10 to 30 percent for physical activity, of which exercise is only a subset. Thermogenesis is an even more minor player, Cypess said, usually accounting for less than five or 10 percent of your total energy expenditure (depending on how much time you’ve spent in the cold).
When I asked Cypess if he had any advice about exercising and temperature, he said he’d recommend against the extremes — even extreme heat. In very hot temperatures, during activities like hot yoga, all the sweating you do is simply losing water, and that the sweating process doesn’t burn off extra calories. “Exercise at a temperature where you’re not sweating too much,” he summed up.
So if you overeat, the best thing to do is probably focus on having smaller meals later to make up for your indulgences. Exercising, even in cold weather, isn’t going to cut it alone.
Do You Burn More Calories In The Heat?
As we move further and further into summer, many people opt to take their workouts outdoors to really get their sweat on. But while working out outside in the hot, hot heat can certainly feel tougher than exercising in an air-conditioned environment, what does the science say? Are hotter workouts actually more effective?
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Here, we break down everything you need to know about working out in hot weather before you head outside for a steamy sweat session.
The Skinny On Hot Workouts
It seems like there are a lot of options for hot workouts these days, from hot yoga to even hot spinning (god help us). As anyone who’s attended a Bikram session or gone on a long run at noon in the middle of July knows, adding heat to a workout can make it feel much more intense. Suddenly, what was once relatively easy for your body in a cool climate becomes impossible. If you’ve ever gone hiking in the height of summer, just putting one foot in front of the other can be supremely difficult.
But what exactly does this mean in terms of how your body actually burns fat and calories? At first blush, it might seem that working out in the heat leads to greater weight loss. If you’ve ever weighed yourself before and after a strenuous, hot workout, you may notice that the numbers on the scale have shifted dramatically. This leads some people to thinking that exercising in extreme heat is a good way to lose weight.
Unfortunately, nearly all that extra weight is likely to be water, not fat.
Though some sources suggest that working out in the heat may be able to help you burn more calories — because your body uses more energy trying to keep itself cool — the difference will probably be negligible at best, and the overwhelming majority of the weight loss you experience from working out in the heat simply comes from water loss.
Even if exercising in the heat doesn’t do much to help you lose fat per say, there are some other benefits to working out in extreme temperatures. There’s those who insist on the benefits of sweating as detox, and they’re not exactly wrong; the skin is a part of the excretory system, and performs an important role in ridding the body of toxins. One of the many health benefits of sweating is that you’re just helping your body get rid of junk. Small amounts of toxins like lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium are found in sweat. The more you sweat these toxins out, the less you’ll have in your body. This sort of detoxification process, especially when sustained every day through exercise, can help you to stay healthier and live longer.
Also Read: The Surprising (And Glorious) Health Benefits Of Sweating Like A Pig
However, others point out that sweating isn’t nearly as important as the job that your kidneys and liver do, and that the benefits of sweating-as-detoxing have yet to be proven. And of course, the more you sweat, the more dehydrated you may become, so make sure you drink tons of water.
Another potential benefit that is sometimes mentioned by proponents of hot workouts is an increase in flexibility. Hot yoga aficionados insist that heat allows them to sink deeper into their poses and makes their muscles more pliable. This can be a double-edged sword, however, as it’s easier to overdo it and overstretch in the heat. If you choose to work out in the heat, make sure that you’re careful and don’t push yourself past your limits.
Also Read: Summer Body-Blast Workout You Can Do At The Beach
There have been some studies suggesting that doing hot workouts can increase your performance in both hot and cold environments. A study done at the University of Oregon and published in The Journal of Applied Physiology tested the ability of competitive bike riders to perform in a 55-degree room. One group of bikers trained in a cool setting and the other trained in the heat. At the end, both groups were tested in a 55 degree room. The group that trained in the heat experienced significant improvement while the group that trained in the cool did not. However, it is important to be aware that this study dealt with highly trained and competitive athletes, and its findings may not be 100 per cent applicable to more casual exercisers.
Finally, exercising in the heat may be able to help build mental toughness. The ability to keep going in the heat may be able to give you a competitive edge when the chips are down. However — none of that is going to be very helpful if you give yourself heat stroke first.
Regardless of whether or not you burn more calories, if you decide to work out in the heat, make sure you are paying close attention to your body and how you’re feeling. Don’t push yourself harder than your body can handle, and (we can’t stress this enough), drink lots and lots of water. You’re at a much greater risk of dehydration when exercising in hot weather than in cooler temperatures. Watch for symptoms like dizziness, confusion, cramps, nausea and weakness. If you experience these, it’s time to get out of the heat, grab some water and cool off.
- MYTH: Hot Workouts Burn More Calories
- Will Training in the Heat Improve Your Performance in the Cold?
- Does More Sweat Mean You Burn More Calories? Surprising Sweat Myths
- Will You Burn More Calories Exercising in Extreme Heat?
Myth: You can lose more weight in warm weather.
Facts: Well, sure you can—if you exercise more and eat less as the mercury climbs. But if you maintain the same habits as winter fades, don’t plan on magically dropping pounds.
The perception that we lose more weight when it’s warm out may come from the fact that we sweat more when we’re hot. But losing weight via sweat means losing water, not fat, says Walter R. Bixby, associate professor of exercise science at Elon University in North Carolina. Lost water weight comes back fast—and dehydration can be dangerous—so extreme sweating is not a sound way to manipulate the scale.
In fact, it’s the season of sweaters—not sweating—that can be more conducive to slimming down. Although the weather isn’t a confirmed factor in weight management, you’re more likely to burn extra calories when it’s cold out, explains Bixby, because your body works to keep its temperature constant. “Your body fights harder to stay warm than it does to cool off,” he says. So exercising outdoors on a cold day may burn incrementally more calories than the same activity on a hot one.
But like squirrels, many people seem to pack on pounds in the winter and shed them come spring. That’s likely due to increased activity when the weather’s nice. Surprisingly, though, Americans who live in places where you can exercise outdoors nearly year-round aren’t necessarily slimmer than the rest. According to a 2008 report, Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity in the country. The state with the lowest obesity rate? Colorado.
Beth Goulart is a journalist based in Austin, Tex.
Does Sweating Burn More Calories?
Cardio vs. Strength training. To sweat or not to sweat. Does one have to sweat to max their calorie burn? What is the best type of exercise for losing weight and toning?
We get these questions all the time from clients so our Co-Founders, Tanya Becker and Jennifer Maanavi, decided to weigh in on these hot topics below.
Does sweating burn more calories?
No. But it’s vital for our bodies, nonetheless. Everything from our skin to our mood to our body temperature regulation benefit from just one sweat session. Unfortunately, sweating doesn’t necessarily have much bearing on how hard you’re working out or ultimate weight loss. You will lose water (hence weight), but you’ll drink it right back. On the same note, when you are in a sauna you’re not burning calories, you’re just sweating.
On the other hand, burning calories depends entirely upon intensity and duration of workouts. Exercising in a hot and humid room will just exhaust you faster, and you won’t burn as many calories because you will stop working out sooner. If you exercise in an air-conditioned room, you won’t sweat as much allowing you to exercise longer while burning calories.
If sweating won’t help me lose weight, what will?
While cardio does burn calories at an above-average rate while you’re doing the exercise, that’s where it ends. Once the exercise is completed, the body cools down and returns to its normal caloric burn mode. Strength training, on the other hand, builds, tones and sculpts muscle. Strength training also boosts your metabolism—for as long as 24 hours a day, some experts speculate.
So….Should we all just cut cardio?
Not. At. All. Cardio has huge benefits and that is where interval training comes into play. You can get the aerobic benefits of cardio while strength training if you exercise in peaks and valleys—called interval training. This can cut your workout time in half and increase the benefits – thus, you save time and get better results. That’s why classes like Cardio Burn, Amped Up! and S.B.T. (and our cardio focused online workouts) are so phenomenal to add to your routine.
So, what should I be doing to burn calories AND get toned?
Apart from the calorie burn boost, we’re HUGE fans of interval training – a mix of high-energy “sprints” (like strength training and cardio) followed a round of recovery (stretching) — around here. In other words, we’ve found that mixing things up in a single session just kills it when it comes to toning and strengthening over time and revving clients’ metabolisms in real time. So good – from the first moment of a workout through hours afterward.
Curious about the science behind our approach to sweat? Read about our philosophy and technique here. And click here for real life proof that our method works!
If you’re wondering which one of our interval training classes you should try, click here!
By Diana Kelly
Will transitioning your workout to a heated environment help you reach your fitness goals faster? Should you train at midday instead of mid-morning this summer to maximize the high temps and amp up the sweat factor? To find out, we chatted with Jessica Matthews, exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. She reveals whether or not a sweat-soaked shirt means you actually burned more calories — and discusses how to complete hot workouts safely.
The Rumor: The more you sweat, the better your workout
Go for the burn. Burn calories. It’s no wonder these two common exercise clichés connote fire and heat: When we work out like maniacs, our muscles do feel like they’re on fire. In fact, many of us feel like if we’re not hot and sweaty, we’re not doing it right. But is that true — and if so, should we seek out ways to heat things up even more while we exercise? In other words, should we heat up our environments, too?
The Verdict: Sweating isn’t a reliable barometer, but working out in the heat can enhance the effectiveness of your routine
Sweating is the cooling process your body goes through to help you maintain a steady body temperature — but it’s no workout indicator. “We have this association that sweating equals calories burned, and that’s actually not accurate,” says Matthews. “Every body is different and sweats differently, and how much or how little you sweat doesn’t equate to the number of calories you burn.”
Does it help at all to turn up the heat in order to sweat a little more? It may. A study done on 20 highly trained cyclists found that there are some research-proven benefits of working out in heat — including an improved sweating/cooling process, enhanced blood flow through the skin and expanded blood volume.
A part-time yoga teacher, Matthews says that hot workouts are becoming most popular in the yoga arena, first with Bikram (done in 103- to 107-degree heat), and then with other hot-style yogas such as Vinyasa and CorePower Yoga, a yoga-infused weight-training program performed in 92- to 95-degree heat. Another growing trend? Group cycling classes in heated rooms.
Does More Sweat Mean You Burn More Calories? Surprising Sweat Myths
Another rivulet of sweat runs down your neck as your usual run turns into a seriously sweaty workout on this hot and humid day. You think to yourself that one of the great things about summer is all these extra calories you’re burning because it’s so danged hot out!
After all, sweaty workout equals a slimming one, right? Umm…don’t break out the double raspberry swirl gelato yet. Take our quiz below and find out which sweat myths you can ditch.
True or False? See if You Can Tell The Sweat Myths from the Truths
True or False?: You sweat all the time.
True. You are always releasing moisture from your skin to help regulate body temperature, although usually not enough to be noticed. And this is taking place over almost the entire surface area of your body.
T/F?: The most that a human can sweat is three liters per day.
False. This is one of the most common sweat myths! A person in a colder climate can sweat up to a liter per hour! A person in a warmer clime can lose between two to three liters per hour.
T/F?: You burn more calories during a hot weather workout.
True. Your heart needs to work harder to both keep your muscles well oxygenated during cardio and to send extra blood to the surface of your skin to keep your body temperature safe. Unfortunately, the calorie numbers are pretty low, so don’t think you’ve earned an ice cream sundae! Think more like one bite of chocolate.
T/F?: Sunblock makes it harder to sweat.
False. Don’t let sweat myths like these keep you from being sun safe. “Sunscreen does not affect the sweating mechanism, which is your body’s way of cooling itself,” says dermatologist Brooke Jackson, M.D., of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago. Please note that no sunblock is truly “waterproof or sweatproof” so make sure you reapply every two hours.
T/F?: Sports drinks really do make a difference.
True. But only in moderation. When you’re sweating heavily you lose electrolytes which need to be replaced through food or drink. Sports drinks can be a quick way of doing that, but keep in mind that sports drinks are often fairly high in calories. Make sure you don’t drink down empty calories that you just got rid of with a hard workout!
T/F?: Your body works harder when it’s humid.
True. Your skin relies on the air being somewhat dry so that the moisture from our body can easily evaporate. In humid conditions, the air is saturated with moisture and that makes it harder for the sweat to evaporate. This keeps your body temperature elevated and is why it can feel like such a struggle to do even easy workouts in humid conditions.
Keep cool during hot-weather workouts: Wear light layers that can breathe and rely on light colors (this is not one of the sweat myths!). We love these keep-you-cool workout skirts.
Favorite tip: Soak your favorite baseball cap in cool water before you head out. Works like a charm to keep you cool.
Tell us how you keep your summer workout cool.
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- By Lisa Johnson