We all have the ideal temperature for cycling however, is there a recommended temperature physically for exercising? Perhaps there is an advantage for men over women?
Rain, snow cold winds and grey skies …. It’s not happening!
Everyone has their weather kryptonite when it comes to cycling. It’s that kind of weather that makes your riding experience utterly miserable. My Kryptonite is the days with 4 to 5 degrees, grey skies, no sunshine to warm meup, and howling cold wind that cut through me regardless of what I wear. I prefer riding on the sun but with sub-freezing temperatures.
Much of this choice or dislike is based on personal experiences and cultural backgrounds. There is a physical factor as well? Do you experience a change in your physical capacity in response to temperature?
Click here to watch this video!
Sandsund M et al. Effects of temperature of the ambient on endurance performance in cross-country ski clothing. Eur J Appl Physiol. 112(12):3939-3947, 2012.
Renberg J et al. The effect of temperature in the environment on endurance performance of females. J Thermal Biol. 45:9-14, 2014.
As the baby bear from the fairytale “The Three Bears” We generally prefer things that are in a middle This is also true for most of us with preference for the temperature we exercise in. However, do our bodies and performance actually work better in a specific temperature?
Today’s episode will examine two studies that examined both genders exercising in different temperatures. Was there a recommended temperature to exercise at? Was the temperature comparable for both women and men?
Our bodies are designed to function within a small range of internal temperature which is why our thermoregulatory behavioural and physiological systems evolved to help us stay within this very narrow temperature range when we’re at rest or working out, no matter if it’s in the summer or in the Arctic. Naturally, shivering when cold or sweating when hot will consume more energy, and so the natural concern is whether there’s an ideal ambient temperature to exercising. Research conducted beginning in the mid-1990s indicate that 10degC is the ideal temperature as being warmer or colder can affect performance. The majority of these studies have been conducted in males however the most interesting issue is whether there’s an sex-related difference, since women react differently to heat stress.
Two Norwegian studies from 2012 and 2014 addressed both of these issues, using nine well-trained endurance cross-country males skiers or orienteering athletes, as well as 9 endurance females who had been trained well of the same sports employing the same method. The testing was conducted in six temperatures ranging from 20degC to 14degC. The treadmill was run at a slow warm-up speed and 4 different speeds to determine lactate threshold and running economy as well as a final difficult increase in pace until exhaustion, to test the maximal endurance and exercise tolerance. Standard ski racing attire was used, as well as extra gloves and neckwarmers in the coldest temperatures to avoid dropping out due discomfort. Women were examined during the luteal stage of menstrual cycles.
Let’s take a look at the male study from 2012 first. The graph displays the tolerance duration measured in second for all six temperature ranges. The graph shows a generally upside-down U pattern that is the most efficient between -1 and -4degC but with decreasing performance when we get towards warmer or colder temperatures. Similar peak in the speed of running at the lactate threshold of 4 was also observed and running efficiency generally was worse the higher the temperature. However, no difference in VO2max were observed. The pattern that shows an upside-down U in performance as temperature increases is consistent with similar studies done in males, however the optimal temperature for this study is lower than in other studies. The most interesting thing is the lack of differences in any of the measurements in the study of females from 2014 using the same methodology and similar fitness levels of athletes in the same sports.
The study was original in that it tested a previously observed observation among men and testing whether it is the same in women. The authors were puzzled about the reason why the male’s performance could be affected by the ambient temperature , while females seemed unaffected. When temperatures were hot it could be because women, despite having less sweating they were more efficient in evaporation, and therefore not as affected by dehydration like men. In cold weather women have lower skin temperatures and greater body fat to provide insulation, which means they lost less heat than males. Whatever the reason, this study shows that women aren’t smaller than men and there is the urgent need to research their unique physiology, both in research on health and environmental physiology. research.
Cold weather weather-related training, please