LOCAL STUDY: Hot and humid outdoor workouts may be a waste of time

Published: Jul. 20, 2017 at 9:20 PM CDT
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If you're considering getting a run or bike in during this sweltering heat, sweating it out outdoors may actually be a waste of time.

According to ongoing research being conducted right here in Omaha we may want to take our exercise routine indoors.

"Get out of the heat," advised Associate Professor Dustin Slivka of UNO’s School of Health and Kinesiology. He and others have been studying subjects in a unique workout chamber. They call it “Temperature Optimized Physical Training.” They're experimenting with how exercising in different climates can affect your muscles.

"Your main muscles that make you move," are what Slivka says they’re mainly focused on.

"I definitely feel more energized after working out in the cold," explained Doctoral Research Assistant RJ Shute. Their team started this past winter by having people workout in hot and humid conditions inside their controlled chamber. They found that heat wasn’t doing much to build muscle or for the subjects to overall become healthier.

"When we have people exercise in a hot environment it really challenged their physiology," said Slivka. "That response appears to be very negative. Almost as if they didn't work out at all."

But how could that be? When we're outside getting a heart rate up we can feel so sweaty, especially during Nebraska’s hot and humid excessive heat warnings.

"When it's humid out our sweat doesn't evaporate into the air because there's already so much moisture in the air." Slivka explains that our bodies aren't getting cooler when it’s humid. Instead of acting like a natural coolant our bodies need the moisture just sticks. It can cause our bodies to overheat.

By taking small samples of muscle tissue from their subjects the researchers have discovered that working out in the cold could help fight obesity, diabetes and even the entire aging process.

"That could impact performance, could impact health or could impact the overall quality of life."

The Department of Defense is primarily funding their work. It could one day help determine the best way for soldiers to train better in the future.

"If this can lead to better research and helping people out then I'm all for it," said Shute.

The study has been going on for about six months. They still have a ways to go. The team will continue running tests until September and then they will analyze their data for another year after that.