Your favorite summertime playlist probably has more songs about surfing than about potential health risks. But with much of the nation having already sweated out a historic heat wave in June, health experts would like to add a note of caution to the mix.
Hot weather is like a stress test for your heart, said Dr. Lance Becker, chair of emergency medicine at Northwell Health, a health care provider in New York. And some people respond poorly to such stress. “They could have a heart attack. Their congestive heart failure symptoms could get much worse. Or they could have an arrhythmia,” the medical term for an irregular heartbeat.
I got into yoga some years ago when I dated a woman who taught it. We went out for about two years and did yoga at least once a day. After we split up I still did yoga daily for several years.This was all before the current yoga craze. My experience of yoga was totally positive. I achieved excellent physical balance and learned through breath control to deal with stress. I can’t give you a good reason for stopping outside of mental and physical inertia.
I did not do hot yoga, nor even hear of it in that time. If you aren’t aware of it, hot yoga is done in a temperature of 105 Fahrenheit with humidity around 40 percent.
Those are hot conditions to do anything.
Consumer Reports recently reported on woman who complained that it left her light-headed, fatigued and weak. “I was completely exhausted, just depleted,” Julianne Pepe said of her reactions after practicing hot yoga.
These sound suspiciously like the symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stoke.
As a cyclist in all four seasons, I am very aware of these symptoms. Please check out my page – What to Do About Extreme Heat for more on the dangers of extreme heat.
I haven’t heard a lot of reports like this from folks doing hot yoga. I know there are good aspects of the heat, too. Studio owner, Rich Pike, told Consumer Reports, “Heat allows you to bend safely and be more flexible. What the sweating does is it eliminates toxins through your sweat.”
It is true that sweating releases toxins from the body. But, keep in mind sweat contains other chemicals including salt and potassium which are vital electrolytes. Doing an extended hot yoga session and getting dehydrated can be dangerous to your health.
As in all situations, you need to listen to what your body is telling you. If you are benefitting from the practice, you won’t be getting mixed signals like confusion, light-headedness, etc.
I personally prefer extreme cold to extreme heat, because you can always add layers and go out, but with heat, no matter how much you take off, you are still uncomfortable once you are outside.
I cruised the web and wanted to share some of the suggestions of others in the same situation.
Our friends overseas at the Daily Mail offered some very down to earth ones, including: “Eat small meals and eat more often. The larger the meal, the more metabolic heat your body creates breaking down the food. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.”
A similar concept came up in my blog item The Brain is an Oxygen Burner explaining why we often feel sluggish after eating a big meal because digestion requires a lot of oxygen that would be going to the brain, but is diverted to the gut. Continue reading →