If you’re like most people, you don’t feel like you’ve had a good workout unless you’re sweating buckets afterward. Perhaps that’s one of the many reasons hot yoga has become increasingly popular.
Research has found that you don’t have to sweat to get a good workout. In fact, there are many benefits to working out in the cold. We’re always advocates for cold treatment, so we were excited to hear about the latest workout trend: cold yoga.
Move over, hot yoga. Cold is the new hot — and here’s why.
The benefits of a cold workout
Think about the last time you were out in the cold without a jacket. Did you shiver or jump around to keep warm?
“Heat discourages movement while cooler temperatures encourage movement,” explains Jimmy T. Martin, the cofounder of a new cool-temperature fitness studio in New York, Brrrn. He says that’s why dropping the temperature makes a better workout experience.
“When you’re cold, your body is constantly working to maintain its normal temperature,” says Kristin Stanford from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “It does this by burning energy to maintain heat production, meaning it could be burning more calories at the same time.”
Heat may actually limit the body’s ability to reach peak performance while exercising. When it’s hot, your body produces sweat to stay cool. Vigorous exercise increases your internal temperature, so your body has to work even harder to sweat. That effort competes with the work your metabolism is doing while you exercise.
Studies are supporting this theory, and have found that physical performance drops in hotter temperatures. For example, one found that marathon runners slowed as temperatures increased.
Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago, and has become increasingly popular in Western culture. It is proven to have many health benefits, from building muscle to preventing health problems, improving focus and boosting the immune system.
Cold yoga is practiced in temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In those temperatures, the body experiences “mild cold stress,” and relies on metabolism to maintain its internal temperature — thus burning more calories.
Exposing your body to the cold is said to release endorphins or “happiness hormones” for “chillseekers,” as some fans of cryotherapy and cold yoga call themselves. In fact, cold yoga and cryotherapy benefits are similar, as they both support mental well-being, weight management and whole-body wellness.
Learn more about how cryotherapy fits into an active lifestyle.