Even the buffest of fitness buffs might be deterred from going for a run or bike ride in the rain. It’s understandable. After all, being cold and wet is no fun, and slippery pavement and soggy trails can certainly pose a risk. However, new research indicates that working out in the rain may actually be good for you.
Working Out in the Rain Means Working Harder
Just earlier this year, a team of Japanese scientists published a study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, in which they analyzed their experiments on the changes in metabolism that runners experienced while working out in a lab environment that simulated rain.
The scientists found that runners working out in the “rain” had higher levels of oxygen consumption and various blood markers like norepinephrine and plasma lactate than the runners in the control group. These heightened levels indicated that more calories were being burned by the runners in the rain than the control group, who ran in “normal” conditions.
This new study gives more credence to older ones that suggested similar findings. A 1985 study, for example, suggested that running in a cold or wet environment led to more fat loss than running in a dry and warm one.
Potential Impact on Performance
Rain may or may not have an effect on how hard you train, and how hard you feel like you’re training. As noted in the 2013 study, in-the-rain running results in a lower skin and esophageal temperature.
Heat stress has been shown to result in lower power output among cyclists. Especially during the summer, running in the rain would be likely to help you feel cooler and reduce your body temperature, allowing you to exercise for longer and with more effort than if you were running in the dry sun.
Past studies have also found that exercising in a cool environment leads to a perception of less exertion than if you were to work out in a hot environment. So running in the rain may actually feel more comfortable than not.