Thermoregulation and How it Affects Your Cycling

Okay, you have heard this before but it is worth stating again—drinking cool water will help keep you riding strong during the hot summer months.

A few years ago I sat through a seminar with Dr. Stacy Sims, who's specialty is thermoregulation. Here is what I learned about the subject and how it can affect cycling performance.

More: Cycling Hydration Myths

Thermoregulation is the process our body uses to keep our core temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When our bodies are over heating because of exercise, being outside in the hot temperatures, humid conditions or simply a result of nerves, our core temperature rises and we sweat. Sweating is our body's way of cooling us off. Sweat is made up of 99 percent water and mineral salts (sodium chloride), along with a few other small amounts of our bodies ingredients.

According to Dr. Sims:

  • Approximately 63 percent of our entire body mass is water.
  • Greater than 50 percent of blood plasma is water.
  • Water is the medium for biochemical and metabolic reactions.
  • Thermoregulation of the body is regulated by the consumption of water.
  • The body is highly sensitive to dehydration.
So, if we are outside training or riding our bikes in extreme conditions, what happens to our bodies if we are not replenishing the water we lose through sweat? As little as 0.5 percent water loss can put a strain on our heart muscle and decrease our cycling performance.

More: Cracking the Code on Hydration

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