Hot yoga is often touted as a mantra for weight loss. Usually performed in hot and humid conditions with temperatures as high as 105 Fahrenheit the technique promises enhanced muscular strength, endurance and flexibility.
But a new study for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests that while the regime may come across as ‘tougher’ and ‘harder’ it bestows health benefits just the same as exercise done at normal temperatures.
For the purpose of the study, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse followed 24 healthy adults during regular and hot yoga classes.
The hot yoga was carried out in an average temperature of 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33 Celsius) with the temperature soaring to 105 Fahrenheit (40.5 Celsius) far conducted some specific styles.
However, researchers found no difference in the increase in core temperature or heart rate between the members of the two groups who took the 60-minute sessions.
“This study showed that while higher sweat levels may cause participants to feel like they were working harder, heart rates showed they were actually at comparable levels whether in the regular or hot yoga class,” Dr Cedric Bryant, ACE chief science officer said.
“The benefits are largely perceptual. People think the degree of sweat is the quality of the workout, but that’s not reality. It doesn’t correlate to burning more calories,” Bryant said.
Risk of heat injury
“An increase in core temperature would suggest the person is storing heat, and depending on how high, would be at risk for heat injury,” Bryant explained. “We didn’t find that.”
“But as far as physical benefits,” like muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and balance, “you can get those from a standard yoga class,” he added.
Hot yoga induces higher levels of sweat, thus, working out in higher temperatures calls for proper hydration.
“Dizziness, headache, lightheadedness, mild nausea and muscle cramps, are indicators that you’re not tolerating that heat,” he explained. “You need to remove yourself from that environment and get into air conditioning.”