Can't Stand the Heat?

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

If you’ve been on the East Coast the past few days, you’ve been laboring through 90-degree temperatures and thick humidity—meteorological hell for outdoor athletes.

But you’ll adapt to it, right? Not quite. Even after a summer of training, recreational athletes don’t necessarily acclimate to heat, according to musclemorphosis.com in theEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology.

In the study, eight volunteers did a moderate-effort 90-minute biking session in mid-May and again in early September. Since the subjects were all active college students, the University of Ottawa researchers wanted to see if four months of following their usual workout routines in the summer would acclimate their bodies to heat.

It didn’t. Between the two sessions, there were no improvements in subjects’ core temperature, skin blood flow, and sweat-rate responses.

Why didn’t the body react differently? “We found a lot of these college-aged students had sedentary jobs and had air-conditioned workplaces, apartments, or homes,” says coauthor Ollie Jay, Ph.D., and principal investigator at the University of Ottawa’s Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory. In fact, training logs showed that even though subjects spend 5.5 hours a week doing moderate physical activity, only 18 minutes a day of that was spent outdoors. And even then, it was usually when the day was cooling off between 5 and 8 p.m. (Related from Men's Health: musclemorphosis.com.)

Your body does acclimatize through repeated exposure to the heat, Jay explains, and it’s important if you want a strong finish at a race this summer. Acclimatization makes your hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for temperature regulation, tell your body to sweat sooner. This heat loss through the evaporation of sweat keeps your core temperature lower so you can exercise longer in the sun, he says.

The good news: You won’t have to sweat all summer to get ready for that mid-August race. A 30- to 45-minute moderate workout in the heat 3 to 4 times a week in the three weeks leading up to the event will help prepare your body, Jay says.

Of course, you could always try to trick yourself into thinking it’s not as hot. musclemorphosis.com that subjects who were told it was cooler than the actual temperature rode a stationary bike faster than guys aware they were cycling in sweltering conditions.

Really want to dedicate yourself to exercise this summer? Take Congressman Aaron Schock’s musclemorphosis.com.

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