When hitting the pavement in the summer, many people are under the assumption that they burn more calories. Cycling in the heat is primarily associated with fat loss and better heart health.
But is this true? Does cycling in the heat burn more calories? For the most part, yes! But what most people don’t get is that the heat can do more harm than good. And if you’re not careful enough, you could exhaust yourself to the point of getting heatstroke. Doctors and health experts recommend to cycle only under the right conditions. That is when the temperature is below 75 F, and the humidity isn’t too high.
So how can you keep yourself safe in this debilitating heat? Scroll further to learn more.
Cycling in Extreme Heat:
Cycling in the heat helps burn more calories, as your cardiovascular system is working harder to keep you cool. Add that on top of your exercise regime, and you’re burning calories faster than ever.
Will Cycling Burn More Calories Than Running In The Heat?
Well, yes, running does burn more calories. But you’ll find it easier to cycle for longer periods. So you end up getting leaner by cycling.
However, remember that, once the temperature rises, you run other risks that you don’t want to take.
According to Mayo Clinic, the hot weather puts your body under excessive stress. It means your heart will beat faster, and your temperature will shoot right up.
Heat exhaustion is another culprit, which can raise your body temperature significantly, up to 104 degrees. At that temperature, you could experience vomiting, headache, and excessive sweating.
So What Is The Right Temperature Condition for Cycling?
The World Health Organization (WHO) marks the optimal exercise temperature at 75 F (24 C). A few other sources agree on this, but there are other factors to consider as well.
It’s not the temperature that you need to be concerned about, and it’s the humidity. Humidity is significantly a bigger issue because it can hamper the way your body can cool down. On a warm, dry day, your sweat can evaporate.
However, on a humid day, it is going to stay on your skin and will drip. Therefore, your body will have a hard time regulating the temperature safely.
You know how your body reacts to heat. When exposed to heat, if you start to sweat profusely or your skin starts to pale, and you begin experiencing dizziness, then these are signs of heat exhaustion. You must understand what your body is signaling you. And act accordingly!
So what’s the right temperature for you to exercise in the heat, your cardiovascular health can indicate that. If you have a history of fainting and vomiting in high heat, then avoid cycling.
How Can I Safely Cycle In The Heat and Burn More Calories?
Image by Albrecht Fietz
While you shouldn’t cycle in extreme heat, you can still minimize the risk of heatstroke. Here are a few ways to do that:
1. Stay Hydrated:
Your body can lose a lot of water as sweat, especially if the environment is too humid. Remember to bring a bottle or two of fluids, particularly sports drinks such as Gatorade. These are better than water as they restore salts and minerals lost through your workout.
Dehydration is important when we talk about heat illness. Therefore, you need to make sure that your body stays properly hydrated. On a day of scorching heat, you don’t have to be thirsty to drink those fluids. Don’t choose any alcohol based drinks because they initiate fluid loss.
2. Keep An Eye On The Temperature:
You never know when it gets unsafe. Check the temperature before you leave your house. And stop exercising immediately if you feel light-headed and dizzy. It is better to check the forecast before you go outside or start your riding session. This way, you won’t have to deal with any hassle.
3. Always Have a Plan B:
IF you have heard the forecast and you have decided not to go outside because of the heat and humidity then you need to have a Plan B. you can climb stairs indoor
4. Ditch Days with High Humidity:
Finally, skip days where the precipitation is too high. Your sweat will take longer to evaporate and only heat your body more or use your indoor bike to keep the calorie-burning session consistent.
5. Keep Your Medical Concerns In Mind:
There are various medical conditions or even medications that can severely impact and increase any risks associated with heat illness. Therefore, if you plan to cycle in the heat, you need to discuss this matter with your doctor first, and then act accordingly.
6. Use Sunblock:
You need to use a good quality sunblock to prevent sunburns from happening. Sunburn can reduce the ability of your body to cool down itself. It exposes you to the dangers of skin cancer. Therefore, you need to be careful and use good quality sunscreen to keep yourself safe from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
7. Avoid Midday:
When your area is experiencing a serious heatwave, you must go cycling either in the morning or in the evening. Make sure that you don’t go out in the midday sun. These are the times when it will be relatively cooler outside. You can also check and see if you can take a route with more shade under the trees.
8. Adequate Dressing:
As always, you need to dress up to the occasion. But this time we are talking about loose-fitting, lightweight clothes. They need to be good at sweat absorption and light in color. Do not wear dark colors because they can absorb all the sunlight and will warm you up. Keep a white brimmed hat with you all the time so you can wear it during your ride breaks.
9. Understand Your Fitness Level
You must be realistic when setting your daily cycling goals and keep your fitness level in mind when setting those goals. If you are not fit or have started cycling for the first time, then you should be careful in the heat. In such a case, your body will surely have less heat tolerance. Therefore, you need to reduce your riding intensity.
10. Get Used to First
If you’ve been cycling in colder weather with minimal heat, then you need to be a bit more considerate towards your body. Get used to the hot conditions outside before you start your cycling session with intensity. Get used to the conditions and then get those intensity level-ups as you need.
What Warning Signs to Consider?
When you’re cycling in the heat, keep an eye on any of the warning signs. Your body gives you signs in reaction to the heat it gets from the surroundings. These signs might be associated with heat illness. If you continue to avoid them, then you might have to face some medical emergency. These warning signs include but are not limited to:
- Muscle cramping.
- Vomiting or nausea.
- Excessive sweating.
- Visual problems.
- Increase in heart rate.
- Low blood pressure.
If you experience any of these symptoms or signs, then you need to stop cycling, reduce your body temperature, and get yourself hydrated. You need to measure the core temperature of your body, and you can do that with a thermometer.
You need to keep in mind that in the case of heatstroke, you won’t be able to treat yourself due to fatigue and mental confusion. You will need medical assistance immediately in such a scenario. The best way to reduce the rising temperature of your body is to get into an ice-cold water tub.
Another good practice is to place cold, wet towels on your neck along with your underarms and head. You can also spray yourself using a water hose or even a shower. You can drink sports drinks at this time, and if you don’t feel any improvement in your conditions, then go for emergency medical assistance.
So can you burn more calories in the heat? The short answer is yes, but it’s not recommended in high heat. Even if the temperature is suitably warm, take the above precautions to minimize the risk of heatstroke.
Cycling in hot conditions to burn more calories will put your body through intense stress. And if you don’t take care of it properly, then you risk serious heat illness. Cycling is an intense activity that can increase your body temperature significantly. If you do it in hot conditions and your body will experience a significant temperature rise excessively.
It will cool down on its own, but if there is humidity and you are exposed to heat for prolonged periods, then there is a serious chance that you will get heat sick. In such a scenario, you need to cool yourself down immediately and hydrate yourself. If the symptoms prevail, then seek medical assistance immediately.
Now you know how to cycle safely in the heat! Remember to stay hydrated and avoid high temperatures at all costs.
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