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Why Cyclists Can Handle Heat Better Than Runners

Why Cyclists Can Handle Heat Better Than Runners

Sweat Science An analysis of power data from pro cyclists quantifies the effects of hot and cold air temperatures on performance Get full access to…

Saturday, Apr 23

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Sweat Science

An analysis of power data from pro cyclists quantifies the effects of hot and cold air temperatures on performance Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ .

Something is always lost in translation from the lab to the real world—a fact that’s captured in the concept of “ ecological validity ,” the extent to which the conditions in an experiment match those you’d encounter in the wild. One way around this problem is to skip the lab entirely and search for patterns in naturally occurring data. Cyclists, who gather extensive data about every pedal stroke with their power meters, make particularly good subjects for this kind of analysis, as illustrated by a new study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance .

A team of Spanish researchers coordinated by David Barranco-Gil of the Universidad Europea de Madrid pooled eight years of data from 74 world-class cyclists (48 men and 26 women) and asked a simple question: how does air temperature affect performance? The answers offer some useful insights about the differences between cycling and running, and about the differences (or lack thereof) between how men and women respond to heat and cold.

To assess performance, the researchers first divided the power data into temperature ranges in 5-degree-Celsius increments from below 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) to above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), using the […]

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