- Enhances vasodilatation so that more blood is delivered to the muscles. This means that the capillaries that weave around the muscles respond to the heat by dilation. This brings more oxygen to the muscles and helps in the removal of waste products such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
- Allows oxygen in the blood to detach from the hemoglobin more easily. When blood passes through warm muscles, oxygen releases more easily from the hemoglobin. Blood passing through cold muscles releases less oxygen.
- Speeds up the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids.
- Makes muscles more elastic, less susceptible to injury.
- Improves coordination.
- Reduces heart irregularities associated with sudden exercise.
- Burns fat more easily. Warmed muscles burn fat more easily than cold ones. Fat is released during stress. The stress of intense exercise causes a deluge of fatty acids into the blood stream. If you exercise with cold muscles, they can't use the fatty acids, and they end up in places they are not wanted such as in the lining of your arteries.
Note: Muscles are not the only beneficiaries of heat. Higher temperatures improve the function of the nervous system, meaning that messages are carried more rapidly to and from the brain. Warm muscles are more elastic and are less susceptible to injury. Warmer temperatures produce a more fluid stretch, allowing for a greater range of motion. Cold muscles don't absorb shock and impact as well and do not stretch as easily so cold muscles get injured more readily.