When temperatures creep up, your muscles, mind, and mood get a host of healthy perks, the newest science shows. Learn about the surprising benefits of heat, and get expert advice on how to lean into those advantages.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
My Reading Room


There are big benefi ts to exercising in the heat. You’ll sweat a ton, but that improves your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, says José González-Alonso, Ph.D., a professor of exercise and cardiovascular physiology at Brunel University London. Hot workouts may increase the volume of plasma – a solution that transports nutrients throughout the body – in your blood. The more plasma you have, the better your cardiovascular fitness. In addition, your skeletal muscles work harder as you get used to exercising in the heat, which is an indication of the body’s capacity to adapt to stressful environmental and exercise conditions, González-Alonso says.

Heat also makes you more flexible, which may reduce your risk of injury, says Shape Brain Trust member Michele Olson, Ph.D., a sport scientist.

That said, your performance will likely suffer for the first three to four workouts when the temperature is at least 82 degrees. But it can be restored to normal after around 10 sessions, González-Alonso says. During that period, keep your warm-ups and workouts lighter and shorter than usual, drink plenty of water, and quit if you experience dizziness, rapid heart rate, or trouble breathing, all of which are signs of heat exhaustion, Olson says.


Pack a water bottle with two-thirds shaved ice and one-third water, and sip every 10 minutes or so during your workout. According to a recent study from the University of Montana, people who did this when exercising in a hot room maintained a lower body temperature and heart rate than those who drank room-temperature water, even when they sipped only half as much liquid overall. 

My Reading Room


As your skin heats up, it begins to flush and sweat. Go with it: Apply cream or jelly makeup formulas to give your dewy complexion a radiant finish. For sweaxy lids, smudge a waterproof metallic cream shadow around the entire eye with your finger, then layer a liquid highlighter or clear eye gloss, says Maybelline New York U.S. brand ambassador Vincent Oquendo. Try Maybelline New York Master Chrome Jelly Highlighter ($10, or Butter London Glazen Eye Gloss ($24, 


Higher temperatures make you happier, research finds. “Warming of the skin activates circuits in the brain that are related to mood,” says Christopher A. Lowry, Ph.D., an associate professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado Boulder. Other studies show that warmth makes you more productive at work too (colder temps may make it harder to focus). Lowry recommends getting outside more often on warm days and taking hot baths (aim for Jacuzzi-level heat) for the mental boost. Temperatures that are too hot can be counter productive, however, making you feel sticky and grumpy, Lowry says. The tipping point for most of us is 85 to 95 degrees. Once outdoor temps climb into that range, you may want to head indoors. 

My Reading Room


The jury is out on whether you burn more calories in hot temperatures or cold ones, but research shows that high heat and humidity may make you eat differently. People who sat in an 80-degree room ate about 100 fewer calories than those who sat in a 68-degree room, the journal Frontiers in Nutrition reports. Digesting food causes the body to generate heat, increasing discomfort, the researchers say.

Since you’re naturally drawn to lighter foods now, load up your plate with vegetables and fruits. Bonus: Produce tends to be high in water for extra hydration. 


Heat stimulates blood flow, and that brings more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, says Lily Kunin, the founder of Clean Market, a wellness marketplace in New York City. That’s especially beneficial postworkout: “Saunas are frequently used by athletes after a training session to enhance recovery,” González-Alonso says. “Research also shows that consistently using them can improve cardiovascular health over time.” But how hot the room should be and how long, and often, you should sit in it haven’t been established, he says. Do what feels good to you.

Don’t hit the steam room or sauna immediately after exercising, though, especially if you worked out in the heat, says Shape Brain Trust member Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise. “It’s important to cool down completely first to allow your body to start to recover,” he says. You can even wait a full day after a particularly strenuous workout.