Brrr, it’s Cold… Ouch, it’s Hot!

Jun 14, 2023 | by Steve Irwin

Cold and Hot Exposure training for fitness and health is getting a lot of attention at the moment… Is it a fad or a trend? Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits…

The Benefits of Cold Exposure in Your Fitness Routine

In recent years, cold exposure has emerged as a popular practice in the fitness world, captivating the attention of athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. From cryotherapy chambers to ice baths, the use of cold temperatures as a complementary fitness tool has gained traction. In this article, we will explore the potential benefits of incorporating cold exposure into your fitness routine and how it can enhance your overall well-being and performance.

  1. Improved Recovery 

One of the key reasons to consider cold exposure is its potential to improve recovery after intense workouts. Exposure to cold temperatures, whether through ice baths or cold showers, is believed to reduce inflammation and aid in muscle repair. The cold stimulates vasoconstriction, causing blood vessels to narrow, which may help to alleviate post-workout muscle soreness and decrease swelling. Furthermore, cold exposure can potentially enhance the removal of waste products, such as lactic acid, from muscles, promoting faster recovery and reducing the risk of overuse injuries.

  1. Enhanced Performance 

Cold exposure can also have a positive impact on athletic performance. By subjecting the body to cold temperatures, blood vessels constrict and then dilate when warmth returns, resulting in improved circulation. This increased blood flow can enhance oxygen delivery to the muscles, improving endurance and performance. Moreover, cold exposure may stimulate the production of heat shock proteins, which help protect cells from stress and enhance overall cellular function. These adaptations can contribute to improved speed, strength, and power output during workouts or athletic competitions.

  1. Increased Calorie Burning 

If weight management is one of your fitness goals, incorporating cold exposure into your routine may be worth considering. Cold temperatures can prompt the body to burn more calories in an effort to generate heat and maintain a stable body temperature. While the effect may not be significant on its own, combining cold exposure with regular exercise and a balanced diet can contribute to a calorie deficit and support weight loss efforts.

  1. Mental Resilience and Discipline 

Cold exposure is not only a physical challenge but also a mental one. Enduring cold temperatures requires discipline, mental toughness, and the ability to overcome discomfort. Regular exposure to cold can help strengthen these qualities, fostering mental resilience that can be applied not only in your fitness pursuits but also in other aspects of life. Overcoming the initial discomfort of cold exposure can build willpower and teach you to push through physical and mental barriers, leading to an increased sense of self-efficacy.

  1. Potential Health Benefits

Beyond fitness and performance, cold exposure has been associated with various potential health benefits. Some studies suggest that cold therapy may boost the immune system, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and increase the production of brown fat. Brown fat is metabolically active and can help burn calories, potentially aiding in weight management. However, it’s important to note that further research is needed to fully understand the extent of these health benefits and their long-term effects. (Read HERE [1] for more information)

Important Note: Incorporating cold exposure into your fitness routine can offer a range of potential benefits, including improved recovery, enhanced performance, increased calorie burning, mental resilience, and potential health advantages. However, it’s crucial to approach cold exposure with caution, listen to your body, and seek guidance from professionals to ensure its safe and appropriate incorporation into your fitness regimen.

The Benefits of Hot Temperature Exposure in Your Fitness Routine

Exposure to hot temperatures, particularly in the context of fitness, has gained popularity due to several reasons. One of the primary reasons is the concept of hot workouts or hot exercise, which involves engaging in physical activity in a heated environment; such as Hot Yoga, or using external heat sources; such as sauna.

The popularity of hot temperature exposure in fitness can be attributed to the following factors:

  1. Increased calorie burn: Exercising in a hot environment can elevate your core body temperature, leading to increased metabolic rate and calorie expenditure. Sweating profusely in response to the heat can also give the impression of a more intense workout. However, it’s important to note that any weight loss experienced during a hot workout is primarily due to water loss and not fat loss.
  1. Enhanced cardiovascular benefits: Exercising in the heat can place additional stress on your cardiovascular system, as your body needs to work harder to cool down and maintain its core temperature. This increased cardiovascular demand may lead to improved endurance, increased blood flow, and better cardiovascular fitness over time.
  1. Detoxification and skin benefits: Sweating during hot workouts is often associated with detoxification and cleansing. Proponents of hot workouts claim that sweating helps rid the body of toxins and impurities while promoting healthier skin. However, the scientific evidence supporting these claims is limited.
  1. Mental resilience and focus: Hot workouts can be mentally challenging due to the discomfort and physical demands they impose. Engaging in exercise under such conditions may help improve mental resilience, discipline, and focus, as you push through the discomfort and complete your workout.

Important Note: It’s important to note that while there may be potential benefits associated with hot temperature exposure during exercise, it also poses certain risks. Exercising in extreme heat can increase the risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke, especially if proper precautions are not taken. It’s crucial to stay hydrated, take breaks when needed, and listen to your body’s signals during hot workouts. Consulting with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before engaging in intense hot exercise is recommended to ensure it aligns with your individual health and fitness goals.

The Benefits of Hot Temperature Exposure for Health using Sauna

Hot temperature exposure, particularly in saunas, remains popular in the fitness community due to its potential benefits on health and fitness. In addition to the factors mentioned earlier, one aspect that has gained attention in recent years is the activation of heat shock proteins (HSPs) through heat stress. Here’s some information about heat shock proteins and their potential relevance to fitness:

  1. Heat shock proteins (HSPs): Heat shock proteins are a group of proteins that are produced by cells in response to stressful conditions, including heat stress. They act as molecular chaperones, helping to protect and repair damaged proteins and maintain cellular function. HSPs are involved in various physiological processes, including protein folding, cellular signalling, and inflammation regulation.
  1. Cellular adaptation and stress tolerance: Exposure to heat stress, such as in saunas, can trigger the production of heat shock proteins as a cellular response. This activation of HSPs is thought to promote cellular adaptation and enhance the body’s ability to tolerate subsequent stressors. It may improve the body’s resilience to oxidative stress, inflammation, and other forms of cellular damage.
  1. Potential benefits for muscle growth and recovery: Some studies suggest that heat stress and subsequent HSP activation may play a role in muscle growth and recovery. It is believed that HSPs can facilitate muscle protein synthesis, aid in muscle repair, and reduce exercise-induced muscle damage. However, further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and potential benefits of HSPs in relation to muscle adaptation.
  1. Enhanced endurance and performance: Heat stress, such as heat exposure in saunas, may also have positive effects on endurance and performance. It is thought that the adaptations induced by heat stress, including increased blood flow, improved cardiovascular function, and better thermoregulation, may contribute to enhanced endurance capacity and exercise performance in certain individuals.

Important Note: While the activation of heat shock proteins through heat stress is an area of scientific interest, more research is needed to fully understand its implications for fitness and health. The specific protocols, durations, and temperatures required to optimise HSP activation are still being explored.

Moreover, sauna use should be approached with caution, especially for individuals with underlying health conditions or those who are pregnant. It’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating sauna sessions or any heat-related interventions into your fitness routine.

As scientific understanding evolves, staying informed about the latest research and recommendations from trusted sources is crucial for making informed decisions about incorporating hot temperature exposure, including sauna use, into your fitness practices. (Read HERE [2] for more information)

Please Note: The information provided in this article are the opinions and professional experience of the author and not all activities are recommended for the beginner or participants with underlying health conditions. Before following any advice or starting any fitness, health and wellbeing journey please consult with an Allied Health Professional and / or General Practitioner.


  1. Cold Exposure Benefits – Dr Rhonda Patrick
  2. Benefits of Sauna – Dr Rhonda Patrick
Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin

Steve has spent the last 19 years in the Australian Fitness Industry as a Group Fitness Instructor, 1-1 Coach, State Manager, Business Owner and is currently an Educator for the Australian Institute of Fitness. A lifelong fitness enthusiast he started his working life in the Military which guided him into the fitness industry where his passion for helping others on their health and fitness journey has been realised. Steve believes that for anyone thinking about getting fit or healthy they should “just get started” as “doing something is better than doing nothing”.

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