Top Tips to Stay Hydrated When Cycling during the Warmer Months
Hydration techniques for cyclists
Hot weather can be a let-down when you want to go for a ride. Cycling is no doubt a heavy physical activity despite it being low impact sometimes. You mostly work your legs, but you can easily get a complete workout in one outing. Now add warm weather and your usual cycling routine becomes an even heavier outdoor activity.
Don’t fret. Whether the weather is hot or freezing, we have tips for you so you can go for a ride safely. And for the warmer months of December to February, here is the most important tip: STAY HYDRATED!
Your body is between 50 and 80 per cent water, and you lose some of it due to sweating when you engage in physical activity. Now imagine just how much sweat you produce – and how much water you lose – while cycling under the heat of the sun. Cycling has many health benefits, but dehydration can cause cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. Read on to prevent these and learn more about hydration.
Tip #1: Know the right hydration.
When it comes to hydration, water still remains as your number 1 choice. Your body is mostly water, what better way to replenish it by drinking water?
Most bodily functions rely on water. Water lubricates your joints which help you move as you pedal. Water transports oxygen throughout your body which helps reduce the build-up of lactic acid and that painful sensation in your muscles. Water also regulates your body temperature through sweating; making it your best friend under the heat of the sun, effectively preventing dehydration.
Drinking water does not only prevent dehydration, it also gives you overall good health. You might be surprised that the fluoride-rich drinking water in most parts of Australia can help you stay hydrated while cycling, improve digestion, moisturise your skin, and yes, maintain healthy teeth.
· Sports drinks
Drinking water is almost always the preferred option when it comes to hydration. However, high temperatures in summer make you sweat a lot more than usual. Water may not be enough to stay hydrated and keep your performance steady.
Sports drinks are specifically made to replace lost body fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes due to strenuous physical activities, more so on hot summer days. Besides preventing dehydration, sports drinks can also keep you energised as you go for your ride.
Remember to be cautious when drinking sports drinks. Although designed for physical activity, you should only drink it when necessary: during prolonged outdoor physical activities on high temperatures. Sports drinks contain a significant amount of both sugar and sodium. Excessive amounts of each in your system can cause health problems and weight gain, negating the good you get from regular cycling.
· Energy drinks and carbonated drinks
Other drinks, such as energy drinks and carbonated drinks, contain large amounts of caffeine and sugar. They generally taste better than water which makes you drink more. However, large consumption of these caffeine-rich drinks to quench your thirst can do more harm than good for your summer cycling hydration.
Caffeine makes you sweat faster and urinate more frequently. It also stimulates bowel movement, which makes you lose 250-500mL of water. All these will dehydrate you faster. This is not good for your cycling on a hot sunny day, which is why health experts don’t recommend it.
Tip #2: Hydrate before cycling.
Before you go out and start cycling, drink lots of water. The process of staying hydrated when cycling begins before you actually go cycling. This important tip is often neglected. Being adequately hydrated before going for any physical activity prepares your body for the amount of work and effort it will exert.
Start with enough water to help your body temperature effectively adjust to the high temperatures outside. You can start your cycling with a refreshed feeling despite the warm and temperate Australian terrain. It also makes you feel stronger and more alert as you cycle.
Tip #3: Hydrate while cycling.
Stay hydrated as you cycle. Make sure to bring along with you the water bottle of your choice or that gift from your mates. Having easy access to drinking water or your sports drink is the most crucial step to stay hydrated when cycling.
Take regular sips of water every 5-10 minutes. Rehydrating in small amounts can replenish lost body fluids steadily and make sure that you do not experience cramping. Do not wait until you feel thirsty.
Tip #4: Hydrate after cycling.
The need to stay hydrated does not end the moment you finish cycling. Drenched in sweat, you should replace the water and electrolytes you lost. Drink more water or an appropriate amount of sports drink. You might also choose to eat a fresh selection of hydrating fruits and vegetables to rehydrate because you’re not on the move anymore.
Tip #5: Stay hydrated throughout the day.
If you think that staying hydrated is only important before, during, and after cycling, then think again. Accredited dietitian Natasha Murray says that it is healthier to regularly hydrate the whole of your day than dehydrating during physical activity then rehydrating to compensate for the lost fluids.
The body requires 3 litres of water daily, especially cyclists’ physically active bodies. Make sure to fulfil your body’s hydration needs by drinking water and adding water-rich foods in your diet.
Good amounts of water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes in your body ensure that your body functions well. Cycling improves you and your bodily health, but it also poses a risk of dehydration and its harmful effects. Do not waste your efforts for a healthy and active lifestyle just because you do not rehydrate enough. Make cycling and good hydration go hand-in-hand!
Shop Your Hydration Essentials at Stead Cycles.
Do not let the warm weather let you down. Go for that summer ride and keep pedaling on. Just remember to stay hydrated: before, during, and after cycling! Grab your hydration essentials and other bike accessories perfect for the warm weather at Stead Cycles Beresfield. For any enquiries, call us at 02 4966 2141.