PHYSICAL activity is key to keeping yourself fit.
The average working adult commonly fulfils the recommended activity level of at least 30 minutes a
day, five days a week, by slotting in light exercise between work, and perhaps making time to go to the gym several times a month.
When it comes to choosing the ideal environment for physical activity, indoor, air-conditioned settings are an increasingly popular choice, both for the sake of convenience and comfort.
However, some claim that exercising in an air-conditioned environment can be less effective or outright bad for our health.
Is this true?
There are two claims to address here. Firstly: the efficacy of a workout in an air-conditioned setting.
It is often claimed that you need to work up a good sweat in order to burn calories or gain muscle, and people take the sweat as an indicator that their body is “burning fat”. However, that is not how our bodies work.
Sweating itself does not burn calories, nor is it a measurable indicator of calorie loss. It is simply one
of our body’s methods of regulating temperature.
The reason why we sweat when exercising is because vigorous physical activity raises our core temperature, which in turn provokes a thermoregulation response.
If you find that you are not breaking much of a sweat when exercising, it could be an indicator that your current workout regime is not challenging enough.
However, you should also consider a myriad of other factors, including your pulse rate and how your
body feels overall (for example, your muscles should be exerted, but not necessarily screaming in pain).
As such, it is largely untrue that a cold environment causes a workout to be ineffective.
The health concerns of working out in an air-conditioned room can also be assuaged by keeping the following points in mind.
Firstly, in a cooler environment, it may take the muscles longer to warm up. As such, adjust your warm-up routine accordingly to prevent injury.
You will know that you are sufficiently warmed up when your body temperature is slightly raised from your baseline level, your heartrate is elevated, and your muscles feel more limber.
You should also avoid cooling down directly in front of the air-conditioner post-workout despite the immediate relief this may provide, as it could lead to your body temperature dropping more rapidly than is normal.
Finally, always remember to rehydrate. You may not feel as thirsty in an air-conditioned setting, but this does not change the fact you should maintain proper hydration levels by drinking water before, during, and after your workout.
All these considerations taken into account, it is perfectly fine to continue exercising in an environment you personally find comfortable.
After all, when people feel comfortable in their exercise environment, they are more likely to stick to their fitness routines, leading to long-term health benefits!