Exercising in a heated environment may seem uncomfortable and, well, a tad on the crazy side… but as it turns out elevated temperatures can work wonders for improving both your exercise performance and your overall health.
When the body is exposed to high temperatures, substances known as ‘Heat Shock’ proteins are formed, and function as a kind of shield to protect the body. New research from Rhonda Patrick, and others (yep her from the Jo Rogan show), has shown these have incredible health benefits. Here are 10 awesome reasons for choosing to exercise in the heat!
Muscle Strength & Repair
Working out in high temperatures both reduces recovery time and boosts muscle development.
Proteins in the body work to safeguard proper muscle functioning by repairing and rebuilding muscles during and after a workout. Heat Shock proteins speed up and enhance this process, so you’ll be a super-human hulk in no time!
An increase blood flow to the muscles brought on by high temperatures reduces the need for the body to rely on glycogen stores as an energy supply. Blood flow to the heart is also increased, so less effort is needed for the heart to pump blood around the body. This in turn leaves the body more energy for your workout and improves endurance.
A recent study on 6 distance runners showed that through regular heat exposure, just twice per week, they were able to increase their running distance by 32%!
Increased Brain Development
Heat acclimatisation can increase Brain-power. WOOHOO!
Studies have shown that regular heat exposure increases chemicals in the brain which repair nerve cell damage and increase the brains capacity for learning, memory and focus. Heat acclimatisation also helps increase in growth of new brain cells and the strengthening of existing ones- neurogenesis.
No wonder Bikram Yogis are so wise…
Heat exposure has been linked to longer lifespan. WOOHOO AGAIN!
Over 2000 men took part in a study where they regularly visited the sauna, and after a 20 year follow up the results showed that for those men who visited the sauna a few times a week, death by cardiovascular disease was 50% less likely, and generally mortality was decreased by 24%! High fives all round
Sauna use and the working out in the heated environment of a Hot Yoga or Pilates class triggers similar processes in the body. So, if you’re aiming to live forever, exercising in the Bikram Southside is place to be!
Heat exposure can improve mood and increase happiness!
More so than exercise alone, working out in the heat creates a flow of endorphins in the brain which can leave you feeling euphoric and even high. This is because the production of endorphins is not only increased by exercise, but also by the amount of fresh blood circulating throughout your body, which is increased by the heat.
You may have heard or experienced ‘Runners high’, well wait until you experience your first ‘Bikram Buzz’! Why not send your spouse next time you forget to do the tidying up.
Just do it
There are so many more benefits, we had to do another blog. Always remember to exercize with caution, as too much yoga has been known to cause really high levels of happiness, and Bikram Southside cannot be held responsible for subsequent behaviour.
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Focus on positives rather than negatives, DEPRIVATION = FIXATION- Don’t say things to yourself like ‘I need to stop eating too much’ or ‘I need to get out of this habit’. Until you get back into the routine you want to be in, just keep doing what you are doing, but add in the good stuff as well.
Drink water– You’ve probably got out of the habit of drinking enough water. Dehydration can make you feel tired, while drinking lots of water will flush out the toxins from alcohol and heavy foods, making you feel fresher and more energised
Eat bananas and avocados– You will find that the chocolate and dessert cravings go down as you get your potassium and sugar fix naturally, and fill that gap with something good for you.
Get an M&S super-whole-food salad– Might set you back £3.60, but it is incredibly packed with nutrients and so DELICIOUS that by the time you’re finished, you will be like, “Who the heck is Mr Kipling anyway?”
Make a big pot of stew or curry– If you have been in an indulgent mindset, you need something satisfying. A weight watchers micro meal is not gonna cut it, you need something TASTY! Lots of garlic and spices will also boost your immune system and if you can take a bit of chilli, it will give your serotonin levels a boost and help to lift your mood. Make loads and stick it in the fridge AND freezer so you have plenty of good food at the ready at all times.
Set some goals, write them down and visualise- Studies have shown that when goals are written down, they are 70% more likely to be achieved. Take some time to think about the things that you really want to achieve this year. After writing them down, visualise yourself achieving these things and direct your energy toward this visualisation. By focusing on the things you want, you are using the law of attraction to help you attract these things into your life.
Find a partner in crime– Get your spouse, pal, mum or brother on board. Having another person to help spur you on makes all the difference. If you have any friends who have never tried Bikram Yoga, you can bring them to our studio to practice for free up to three times in 7 days. Making your exercise class a social event will improve your motivation tenfold.
Take it easy for your first few classes back– To read more about adopting the right mindset for your return to yoga, check out our blog https://hotyogaglasgow.com/bikram/survive-dreaded-first-class-back/.
Get a blender and make morning smoothie– Great way to kick start your digestion and mindset. If you feel you’ve started the day healthy, it will keep you motivated to stay on track. Its kind of like the opposite of the https://www.spring.org.uk/2011/03/the-what-the-hell-effect.php, if you have been following our posts on that.
Smile more– Smiling sends chemical messages to your brain saying that you are happy, activating a feel-good circuit of neural activity.
Remember the hardest part of your practice is often getting to the studio, when you are here you’ve got the group energy, to carry you, your teacher to motivate you and the positive vibes to uplift you. January is our busiest month at Bikram Southside so the energy in here is electric right now. Just get yourself in here and we will do the rest.
We have all been there where we have forgotten to eat something and half way through a intense exercise session feel like we may pass out. Or worse when you have eat way to much, get cramping in the stomach and feel about as energetic as a slug!
I have done this so many times. Years ago when training or running races I had to take time o really listen and tune into what my unique body needed when it came to exercise. And this is what I feel is the real key to creating a healthy life – learning to tune in and listen to your beautiful and unique body.
What you need is different from what I need and its our job to learn to find out what our bodies needs are and meet them. I work with clients who have tried every diet, plan, or faddy exercise thing but never learnt to focus on what their body is saying to them. So I will be giving you my 6 tops tips for making the most out of your workout but you will need to spend some time figuring out what feels good, powerful and peaceful for your awesome body.
So here are my 6 best practices for before and after you do more intense exercise out so you can make the most of your exercise and feel your best all day long.
You may groan when you read this as you have heard it before but there is a reason us health coaches harp on about water. But lets get specific.
The most important time for you to drink lots of water is in the morning. You wake up dehydrated and your body is still detoxing from the night so we need the water to help flush out all the crappy things our body wants rid of. So if you just focus on making one change aim to drink about 1-2 litres within the first few hours of waking and ideally put in a squeeze of lemon juice too to help wake up your bowels and nourish your liver first thing. This will provide a fantastic platform for any exercise you do throughout the day.
Because when it comes to exercising you want to start fully hydrated so if you are exercising in the afternoon or evening always make sure you drink about a pint of water (or herbal tea, or fresh juice) before you even begin.
Now this is where it can get tricky and you need to listen to your own body but in general most of need something in our tummies before we do intense exercise. Not a full blown meal but something to help our blood sugars balance and to prevent that faint feeling. Eating the right amount before a workout will also help your have a better work out. You will be able to push yourself further and deeper into whatever exercise you are practicing.
So in general if you exercise in the morning make sure you eat something small before a work out, things like small glass (or even a just a few sips) of green smoothie, a energy bite, banana with a little yogurt, some oatcakes, fresh juice, fruit salad etc
If you are working out later in the day just make sure you last proper meal was at least 2-3 hours previous. For example if you do a class at 5pm then that is ages since lunch so you may want to have a small snack before your class especially if it is an intense one, but if it is a gentler exercise session just stay hydrated.
Another important thing to not is that although it is super important to drink water and stay hydrated we get most of our hydration from the food we are eating which is why it is so important to eat lots of green vegetables, fruits and other whole, 100% natural foods as refined processed packaged foods will often have things like refined salts, sugars and chemicals that will dehydrate the body and not do us any favours.
Now this only applies for during exercise that is for longer than 1-1.15 hours and when you feel like you are working out in an intense way for your body.
But keeping a good electrolyte balance is important BUT I don’t recommend all those expensive sports drinks out there. Often they are filled with junk and you can easily make your own.
Simply get a large water bottle fill it with a quarter of your favourite 100% fruit juice, add a few good pinches of quality salt, maybe a slice of lemon and fill the other 3/4 with water. Simple. Or if you like coconut water then that can also be a tasty way to keep your body balanced amidst sweating it out.
It goes without saying that keeping hydrated after your exercise is also equally important so for the following 2-3 hours especially make sure you drink lot of water, your home electrolyte drink, herbal teas, fresh juices or smoothies to ensure you replace everything you have sweated out!
After intense exercise you really want to be eating something within an hour or completing the exercise. This makes the most of you revved up metabolism and is the perfect time to replace any glycogen used up which is applicable to more intense endurance exercise sessions. This is a great time to have a proper meal like breakfast or to have a quality protein filled snack like some nuts, hummus and carrots or homemade milk shake (almond milk, banana and peanut butter is my fav!)
In the morning I tend to make a green smoothie, drink about 1/4 of it before exercising. I do my exercise, then drink the rest of it once washed and dressed but you need to find what works for you and listen to your body as it ALWAYS knows best.
When you are exercising regularly and intensely it is important that you have rest days. That you don’t do any formal exercise for at least a day, ideally two, a week so that you can perform better on the days you do train. Now this does mean you lay on the sofa all day, as true health and fitness is not gained by doing 3 regimented slots of exercise a week, it is found in creating a naturally active life. Where you walk, cycle, climb stairs, run after kids and make small active choices through out the day. But making sure you don’t over train or over work your body will actually allow you to see results much faster.
And if you want some wonderful snack idea of pre or post exercise then here are some of my favs:
Sweet Green Smoothie
Peanut Butter Protein Shake
Salted Chocolate Bites
Chilli Cherry Chocolate Bliss Smoothie
Plus I have a free bundle of recipes and eBooks I would love to give you for free just visit my website to find out more and your hands on some goodies!
Otherwise rest well, eat well and move well so that you can feel awesome inside and out!
Bio – about Kezia
Kezia Hall is a holistic health coach over at Super Naturally Healthy . She is passionate about helping you love the life and body you are in and runs a successful online eCourse called Flourish to help people eat delicious food, heal their body and THRIVE. She is passionate green smoothies and about eating cake on a regular basis.
I started practicing Bikram Yoga at the Old Street studio in London in 2007. After my first session, I told friends that it was the hardest workout that I had ever done. During my five years of Thai-boxing, I had trained to be a fighter and competed in the ring. As you can imagine, I was amazed to find that this yoga series could match the intensity of a Thai boxing training session. Instantly I was hooked!
At the time, I was completing my post grad in primary teaching and was feeling seriously burned out. I quickly found out however, that after a yoga session I would be completely revitalised, recharged and elated. My lower back had always been an issue for me and I had chronic stiff shoulders and sore necks. This quickly sorted it’s self out when I started my yoga practice and has never bothered me again since. I began to dedicate all my free time to my practice, travelling an hour across London to the Studio for each session.
In 2009 I suffered a sudden major illness. One morning I was in school, moving around furniture for my new class, and the next day I was in intensive care, recovering from emergency surgery and septicaemia. I had no underlying medical condition and doctors later confirmed that it was a completely freak incidence, caused by a bacterial reaction. I was unable to move for days, morphined up to my eyeballs, and ended up off work for several months. Tremendously shocked that my health could deteriorate so dramatically in such a small space of time, I began to suffer from anxiety and became depressed.
I was off work and stopped my yoga practice for several months as I struggled to return to my former health both physically and mentally, particularly to regain my confidence. Later that year, I returned to work and completed my probationary teaching year but after my rather resounding reminder that life is short, I realised that I wanted to be back with my nearest and dearest in my home town of Glasgow.
At this crossroads in my life, I was torn. I knew that this move would not be good for my school teaching career and on top of that, to my knowledge there was no Bikram Studio in Scotland at this time. How could I live without Bikram? I felt I had to take my practice with me and wanted all my friends and family to experience the positive changes that I had achieved through yoga. It was then that I made a life changing decision. I handed my notice into my job, signed up for a credit card and in the fall of 2010 I applied for Bikram’s Yoga Teacher Training (BYTT).
Preparing for BYTT was tough and getting through it even harder. You’ll hear all about, it but it’s a story for another day. Overall it’s probably the single most empowering thing I have ever done. After Teacher Training, I felt that I could see everything in life clearer. I felt one hundred times the person I had been the previous year, after my illness. My confidence and strength were restored and with them a strong new purpose in life was emerging.
I felt so much more aware of the value of my health and body than I had done only two years previously and felt compelled to promote health and wellness in my community. I feel that this is something that so many people take for granted and still shudder when I see Scotland’s health stats. Yoga is a great way to counteract elements of your life that are not so healthy. It’s all about the balance. You suddenly find yourself walking along a path to supreme health and mental clarity and you don’t even have to give up the fish suppers!
As all Bikram Yogi’s know, the series provides so many health benefits that it’s difficult to believe that just twenty six postures can do such much good for you. It affects you in so many ways. On top that your motivated and empowered by the knowledge that you are doing it to yourself. I loved yoga teaching straight away. For me, it is such an honour to be able to help people use yoga to improve their mind and body, even to heal old injuries and cure chronic health problems. Its such a positive inspiring environment to work it and I have met so many wonderful people through Bikram Yoga. Overall, I love getting to make people feel good- well ok maybe they don’t feel so great during awkward pose, or much of the standing series for that matter but it’s always worth it in the end and they come out smiling.
I so excited to now be opening a studio. Its always a new challenge and never a dull moment. I honestly cannot think of anything that I would rather do.
– Co-Founder Hot Yoga Glasgow