Some old-school gyms are too hot, sauna-like, making your own sweat a safety hazard. A lot of modern, big box gyms are too cold, perpetually blasting the AC, as if they don’t want members to actually perspire. But some gyms are just right for maximum cardio and lifting PRs. So, is it just a matter of personal preference or is there an ideal workout temperature?
It turns out there is a best workout temperature. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it’s 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit or 20-22 Celsius. In other words, mild, just warm enough for most trainers to get a good sweat if they’re working hard enough. And if you want more precision, go with the halfway point: 70 F or 21 C. Perfectly comfortable. “I find for us that 70 degrees is a good temperature for all,” says Gerald Endress, an exercise physiologist and fitness director at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C.
Endress cautions that sweating is not a good indication of workout success, nor is it directly corelated to burning calories. Some of us perspire doing nothing in the mildest temperatures, while others need 20 minutes of high-humidity, high-impact cardio before needing to mop our brow. There is a best temperature, but there is no right amount of sweat. Now for a gender twist on that best temp…
WOMEN VS. MEN
An interesting study, using self-applied neck cooling, discovered differences in women and men regarding workout temperatures. Despite similar overall changes in body temperature, the female participants wanted more cooling than the males while exercising. Researcher Nicole Vargas, explained these were potential explanations: Women have more subcutaneous fat than men, and women also tend to have greater perceptual responses to temperature changes than men.
“The really interesting thing we found was during recovery,” Vargas said. “The dynamic of how skin temperature recovers versus core temperature in females compared to males was a lot different.” Whereas skin temperature in males gradually fell following exercise, returning to normal levels within 60 minutes, skin temperature fell more rapidly in females, returning to normal levels within 10 minutes following exercise. This rapid fall in skin temperature should theoretically decrease the desire for cooling in females. However, the female participants continued to cool their necks more than the men post-workout, likely because their core temperature remained elevated. This highlighted the importance of core temperature as a major contributor to thermal behavior following exercise, which was more apparent in women.
So, when it comes to workouts, women like it a cooler than men, maybe 68 for women and 72 for men. Or, just compromise, and keep the gym at 70.