The debate about the safety of hot yoga may now finally be settled, thanks to a new study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
Twenty men and women took a 60-minute yoga class twice, first in a room set to 70 degrees, then again within 24 hours in a room heated to 92 degrees and significantly more humid. Researchers measured core body temperature and heart rate both times—and found no significant differences.
Body temps rose about 3.1 degrees during the regular yoga class and 2.9 degrees in the hot class. While the highest recorded individual temp reached 102.4 degrees, that is below the zone in which fatigue and heat-related problems are imminent (104 degrees).
And although people perceived the hot yoga to be more challenging than the non-heated class, both would be categorized as “light” exercise since during hot yoga participants averaged 57 percent of their max heart rate and during the non-heated session, they averaged 56 percent.
Based on this hot yoga study, the concern that heated yoga classes—those with temperatures ranging from 90 to 95—are dangerous is unfounded. However, the importance of properly hydrating before, during, and after class shouldn’t be overlooked, as doing so can help your body to better regulate its core temperature while on your mat. Also keep in mind that it can take anywhere from 10 to 14 days for most people to fully acclimate to exercising in the heat, so give yourself time to get adjusted.
Lead study author John Pocari, Ph.D., head of the department of exercise and sport science at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, adds that while this study looked at the way in which many hot-style yoga classes are being offered, it did not explore styles of yoga like Bikram, which are practiced in much higher temperatures for a longer duration, so more research is needed in that area.
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