AUSTIN (KXAN) — With near record-breaking temperatures scorching Austin this week, many fitness enthusiasts believe they will see better results in the high heat. But preliminary results of a study released this week discovered that warm weather workouts may be a waste of time.
Joe Rhodes hits the hike and bike trail near Lady Bird Lake at least four times a week. He said the recent string of 100-degree days is motivation to get it done. “You can stop on a treadmill any time you get tired,” Rhodes said. “But now, you’re out here so you’re going to have to make a goal.”
Some of his trail companions may be relying on the sweltering heat to help their bodies yield better results.
“I’ve heard that,” said Anne Richard, who works out five to six days a week. “It’s the more you sweat, the more weight you lose. But, I’m not a believer in that.”
Neither are researchers at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, who just released preliminary results of a study looking at the impact of high-heat workouts. They asked: Is it better to sweat up a storm outdoors than in cooler, indoor temperatures? The answer: No.
“Part of the thinking with cold exercise is that you have to work extra hard to keep your body temperature up. That may play a role,” said Dr. Albert Gros, the medical director at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.
Researchers found very little to no development deep inside the cells after a high-heat workout, which they capped at 91 degrees. They said that means on high temperature days, like this week’s expected record-scorching heat, it is almost as if there is no exercise happening at all.
Scientists say another part of the puzzle is in your mitochondria. It is the energy powerhouse in cells that helps build muscle and the heat may slow that process.
“I think we may get down ultimately to discovering that it may have to do with comfort zone with our enzyme systems that regulate the metabolism that contributes to this difference,” Dr. Gros said.
Researchers are still in the middle of this delving into this topic. They will continue to track people who work out in hot temperatures until September. Final results of the study should come sometime next year.
“I learned my lesson. I’m done. I’m going to go take a nap now,” Richard said. That may be a good way to recover from her warm weather workout.