So, summer is officially here. But, when it comes to your current running training plan, as well as the positives of bright mornings and longer evenings, there are some downsides.
And, so long as you’re drinking sufficient water, wearing SPF and stopping before the heat/workout combination gets too much, there’s not much to say you can’t be exercising outside in warmer weather. But does working out under the day’s rays lead to you burning more calories? Here’s what the experts say.
Do you burn more calories in heat?
The answer, annoyingly, is ‘possibly’. Dr Preethi Daniel, clinical director at London Doctors Clinic, says it’s all to do with your basal metabolic rate. This is “the amount of energy we expend per unit time at rest, or a measure of how quickly you break down fuels (calories) to keep your cells running,” she clarifies.
Doctor Preethi explains that the basal metabolic rate can vary with activity levels, but notes that in theory it’s also movable depending on the weather and climate.
“Warmer weather may cause a slight increase in the basal metabolic rate, helping you burn those calories a little bit faster, because the body is working extra hard to keep you cool,” the doctor says.
However, there are no firm scientific studies to prove exactly how many more calories you would burn.
Greg Drach, CEO of running community myCrew and ultra marathon runner, also points out that any increase in calorie burn you might see as a result of warm surroundings would probably only last a short amount of time anyway – because the body learns to adjust.
“Someone who may not be used to working out in hot weather may burn more calories than someone who has been practicing for a long time, however over time your body will condition to work less hard under such temperatures and your calories burnt during the workout will naturally decrease,” he says.
He also notes that, while you might feel more satisfied after a hot workout (just think of the sweat), “in terms of effectivity and results you can achieve a better workout without the extra heat” because you will be able to endure exercise for a longer period of time.
Bottom line: Should you exercise in hot weather?
It’s super important to remember that if you do decide to work out in high temperatures, the need for hydration is extra important.
“The overall end effect might be more satisfying, but exercising in a heatwave is riskier as you can dehydrate or get a heat stroke,” warns Greg.
“Make the most of your workout in the heat by wearing the right clothing (a white breathing cap and light workout outfit), stay hydrated, and try not to workout out in the middle of the day, but rather aim for early morning or late evening workouts,” the running expert advises.