The Health Guru

Facts, Hints, Tips, Advice and Inspiration on everything to do about health & weight loss.

Do you burn more calories when it’s hot?

Posted on | March 5, 2010 | No Comments

Hydrate properly in extreme heat

I was asked this question over 1 week ago – and my initial answer was – NO!  Because the body is designed to sweat which is an inbuilt temperature regulator to stop our body from overheating.  Our circulating blood also travels to the surface of our body to cool down before returning to vital organs to keep them cool.  But this seemingly simple question has really set me back this week.  I’ve had to do alot of homework!!  I’ve checked all the latest research to make sure my facts are correct, consulted with other experts for advice and this is a topic that you can really sit on the fence for.  I will probably be challenged for my answer – But I now have to say – Yes – You do burn more calories when it’s hot.  Here’s why….

Exercising in hotter  temperatures causes  more  calorie expenditure than the same amount of exercise done during colder temperatures.

Why?  Metabolic rates increase by the rise in environmental temperature causing increased energy demands on the body.

Exercise induced heat is less likely to dissipate when the outside temperature is hotter.  As already mentioned – the body’s response to cool down is to carry blood from the core of the body to the peripheries (skins, arms, legs etc) for it to dissipate.  In hot temperature, the heart has to pump more blood to the peripheral body parts so that body heat can be transferred out of the body. All these effects cause more burning of calories.

This is similar to the compressor of a cooling airconditioner which has to work overtime to “throw out” the heat from the room to the outside if the weather is hot.

Exercising when it’s cold:  Many experts argue that during colder temperatures the body will shiver to keep warm. Shivering will burn up more calories when you also perform exercise at the same time.  However, Shivering is the body trying to preserve heat at the same time metabolic processes are slowed down.  Therefore when exercising during cold weather, the heart does not have to work extra to circulate blood therefore fewer calories are burnt.

In hot & humid climates like we experience in Singapore it’s very important to take care of ourselves when exercising in the heat.

Here are some tips to avoid over-heating during exercise in hot temperatures:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. It’s extremely important to stay hydrated. If you’re thirsty then you are already dehydrated; drink before you feel a need to. Be sure to drink throughout the day (stick to non-caffeinated beverages as they will dehydrate you further – choose water instead). Also, drink 15-20 minutes before beginning your workout and every 15 minutes throughout the exercise.
  • Use Sports Drinks:  When sweating and losing electrolytes in hot temperatures – a sports drink (100 plus or gatorade will be useful)
  • Wear light, loose fitting clothes that can breath. Cotton is always a good choice. If your outdoor activity produces a lot of perspiration, consider clothing that is designed to wick the sweat away.
  • Wear sunscreen. Even if you exercise early in the morning or late in the evening, if the sun can reach you then you can get burned. Not only is a sunburn bad on the skin and potentially dangerous but it also hinders your bodies ability to stay cool.

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