It’s important to control the temperature in a gym to help reduce the risk of temperature-associated health issues. Exercising in extreme temperatures is not only uncomfortable for members, but it can be extremely dangerous. Certain areas of the gym can be warmer or cooler than others and gym owners and managers should be familiar with all temperature recommendations to ensure the safety of their members.
Dangers of Exercising in Heat
A gym that is too hot puts members at an added risk of heat-related problems. When people exercise in hot conditions, their bodies are forced to send more fluid to circulate through their skin in an attempt to cool itself. As a result, there is less blood being sent to your working tissues and your heart has to adjust by beating at a faster rate. This also means there is less blood being sent to the brain, which can cause dizziness or a collapse. If body heat continues to rise and the body is unable to properly cool itself, there is a greater risk of heat cramps, heat syncope, exercise-associated collapse, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Gym members who are less fit are at an even greater risk of responding poorly to high heat conditions.
Aerobics, cardio, weight training and Pilates areas, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine, should be at about 68 to 72 degrees. A temperature of 72 degrees is low enough for people to cool themselves by sweating while exercising. And a temperature of at least 68 degrees is high enough for members to stay comfortable. The range takes into account the additional heat caused by cardio machines and body heat from visitors. A pool area should fall into the 70 to 80 degree range, as a slightly warmer temperature is more comfortable for swimmers getting out of the water. Areas like locker rooms, hallways and the lobby -- where no one is exercising -- should be about 72 degrees to keep people comfortable.
Hot Yoga Concerns
Some gyms offer hot yoga classes, where yoga is done in a 110-degree exercise room. Participants enjoy the extra sweating, but this excess fluid loss can lead to dehydration and heat-related problems. It is beneficial to do yoga in slightly higher temperatures because the heat helps to warm muscles, which in turn allows exercisers to stretch further when performing poses. However, to lower the risk of heat-related problems, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that a yoga room be no higher than 80 degrees.
The humidity level in the gym makes an impact on members’ ability to safely cool themselves. High humidity affects the efficiency of the sweating mechanism, as the more moisture in the air, the harder it is for sweat to evaporate from the skin. As a result, the body struggles at cooling itself. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that humidity throughout the whole gym be between 40 to 60 percent.. High humidity makes even a slightly warm gym an unsafe environment. In addition, high humidity causes the gym to feel stuffy, which is uncomfortable. To help combat high humidity, gym staff can set out fans to help members cool off with the circulating air.
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