Do You Burn More Calories Running in the Heat?

When the temperature reaches over 90˚F we know one of the last things you want to be doing is running outside in the heat, however, there are many running enthusiasts out there that claim that running in the heat aids for a better workout as you burn more calories. 

We looked further into this to clarify the truth and to also find out if running outdoors in the heat is safe.

To find out if you burn more calories running in the heat, then keep on reading! 

The answer to this burning question is yes, you do burn more calories running in the heat but this is not to say that it is completely safe to do so and you should ensure you take the right precautions to keep yourself safe when running in hot weather. 

Why Do You Burn More Calories Running In The Heat?

Your body has quite a strict heat regulation system which will produce physical symptoms to control your body temperature if it fluctuates above the norm. When you’re running outdoors in the heat, your body will heat up very quickly, and to prevent it from overheating and to try and cool you down, you’ll start producing sweat. 

As your body is also working hard to cool you down as well as pumping blood to your muscles as you’re moving, you will burn more calories than you would if you were running in a cooler climate. 

Although you do burn more calories running in the heat, the effects of this are minimal and won’t result in quicker weight loss. 

However, our bodies are amazing and they can eventually acclimatize to hot outdoor running conditions, and eventually, it won’t use as many calories or effort to cool your body down so you don’t overheat.  

Is It Safe To Exercise In Hot Weather?

Exercising in the heat can put a lot of stress on your body and if you haven’t taken the correct precautions before and during your run out in the hot weather then you could be putting your health and safety at risk. 

The outdoor temperature is not the only thing that could be dangerous, but the humidity is also an important factor. If the weather is too humid then it’ll be more difficult for the heat and sweat your body is producing to dissipate and you won’t be able to cool down, this can increase the risk of you experiencing heat stroke or heat exhaustion. 

Some symptoms of heat exhaustion are weakness in your body, headaches, dizziness, clammy skin, and a weak pulse.

In temperatures above 85˚F, you’ll want to take more care when running outdoors, try to limit your run time, and ensure you hydrate before and during your run to replace lost fluids that you are losing whilst you are sweating. 

If you’re not used to running outside in the heat, then you’ll be at greater risk of experiencing some health risks, so try to take it easy and reduce your normal intensity or running time and slowly build it up to allow your body to adjust. 

If you begin to feel unlike yourself or experience any symptoms of heat exhaustion then you should immediately move into a cool condition, stop exercising and preferably sit down on the floor, and replenish your body with plenty of fluids. 

What To Wear For Running In The Heat?

Whenever you’re running in the heat, wear lightweight synthetic clothing that will keep you cool and avoid cotton as it absorbs sweat and will cause the clothing to feel heavier and chaffing on your body.

If you’re going to wear a tank top and shorts, ensure they are loose-fitting and that you have applied plenty of sun protection to prevent your skin from burning.

Opting for a loose-long sleeved top will shield the sun from your skin which will keep you cooler for longer. 

White or light-colored clothing should be worn as dark colors will absorb the sun’s heat and cause your body to possibly overheat. 

Try wearing a running hat to keep the sun off your face and neck and make sure to wear protective running sunglasses to keep your eyes safe from the UVA and UVB rays. 

Make sure you bring along a running water bottle or wear a hydration belt to keep you hydrated along your run. If you’re doing long-distance runs then a hydration backpack may be a better idea as it can hold larger capacities of water.

How Much Water Should You Drink Whilst Running In The Heat?

At least 2-4 hours before you go running in the heat, you should drink 2-5 ounces of water per pound of your body weight, and then whilst you’re out on your run you should try to take a few sips of your water every 10 minutes, but more so if you feel you are getting dehydrated. 

After you’ve returned from your run, you should replenish the water you have lost through sweating and drink around 23 ounces of water per pound of your body weight to rehydrate your body. 

Top Tips For Running In The Heat

  • To stay safe, try to limit your runs to early morning or late evening when the temperatures are at their coolest
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run, and consider drinking sports drinks to replenish the electrolytes in your body
  • If it feels too hot to stand around, then it is too hot, so maybe resort to running indoors on the treadmill with the A/C on. 
  • Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing (not cotton) 
  • Stop immediately if you feel any symptoms of heatstroke or heat exhaustion
  • Apply SPF30 before heading out on your run and wear protective accessories like a hat and sunglasses 
  • Reduce your normal running intensity 
  • Seek out more shaded routes like the park where you’re more protected from the sun

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