By Samantha Clarkson, Ashley Gonzalez, Kalea Gunderson and Madalyn LaMastro
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With the increase in heart rate that comes with exercise, there is also an increase in temperature in many West Virginia University Student Recreation Center group exercise rooms.
During group exercise classes at the WVU Rec, temperatures during high-intensity workouts increased by at least 2 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas low-intensity classes seemed to remain consistent or even drop.
This data was collected with temperature sensing technology through the use of an Arduino microcontroller. An Arduino is an open-source platform used to prototype coded inputs. It can read data input from sensors, in this case the temperature in the room, and output that data to the user via a personal computer.
The data showed that group exercise classes where temperature increased were the high-intensity classes Body Pump, Spinning and Zumba. Both Body Pump and Spinning increased by 2 degrees, but Zumba increased by 3 degrees from beginning to end making it the class with the greatest temperature increase.
Yoga had the highest recorded average temperature of all. The class, which began at 6:40 p.m., was 75.45 degrees, making it the hottest class recorded. However, that temperature dropped throughout the class to 73.7, possibly due to factors such as the outside temperature drop in the evening.
Group exercise class instructors try to keep their classes at consistent temperatures to ensure a comfortable experience for students.
“I want to keep everyone as cool as possible during the workout,” said Body Pump instructor Jaclyn Stamile. “I keep the fans on blast and remind my class to take constant water breaks.”
According to Spinning instructor Melissa Henry, her class also keeps the fans running, but turns the lights off to attempt to keep the workout room at a cool temperature.
Regardless of attempts to control the temperature, these high-intensity classes rise in degrees throughout the workout. However, low-intensity classes don’t typically feel a change.
“I’ve only taught January, February and March in that room so I don’t really notice too much of a difference, maybe a couple degrees at the most because of the windows,” Yoga instructor Jayne Harris explained.
Each of the three workout class rooms at the Rec Center have big windows, allowing for nice views during group exercise, but also for sunlight to heat up the space.
“It gets really hot in here when the sun is streaming in,” Stamile said. “I wish the Rec would install shades for the windows so my class could stay cooler while they’re working out.”
Zumba instructor, Leah Skrypek says the room where she teaches class might have something to do with the increase in temperature.
“It definitely gets hot, especially in the upstairs room. In the winter, the heat’s on overdrive,” Skrypek explains. “I don’t think we get the heart rate levels that body pump or spinning would, but I think it’s a good beginner’s class.”
In addition to room structure, the time of day and year also affects the temperature in the exercise rooms.
“It’s definitely hotter in this room in the summer and when there are more people in the class or back-to-back classes throughout the day,” Henry said.
Data was retrieved from the Spinning class when it was 61.84 degrees outside in the middle of March. It was 5:30 p.m. with little sunlight and only 3 people in class, likely due to the timing before spring break. It was also the only class in that room that day.
Body Pump was also recorded in the evening, which could have affected the data.
“Although we try to keep the temperature as cool as possible, people tend to feel their exercise is most successful the sweatier they get,” Stamile said. “So, maybe the temperature increase isn’t too bad – it all just depends on what people want from their workout.”
To learn how to use the Arduino to sense temperature, watch this video.