5 signs you are getting dehydrated

Photo by Okolo Třeboně. CC BY-SA 3.0

When we go out on the bike, specially in a hot country like Vietnam, it’s good to keep ourselves hydrated, stop as many times as we need to have some water or juices and be wary about any sign that shows a possible dehydration. With the tropical weather a dehydration can soon become serious if you are riding a bike.Dehydration of 1 to 2 percent of body weight is bad for your performance, but if it goes over 3 percent of your body weight, your body will be less responsive, and you will have higher risk of  heat cramps or heat exhaustion. Loss of 5 percent or more body weight can result in heat stroke.  Here are five signals you should watch to avoid this

1 You are more than thirsty
As obvious as this may seem, some riders tend to push their limits and not bring that extra water bottle or to wait too much before they stop and refill. Wether you are cycling alone or in a group, don’t hesitate if you need to stop and reload your fluids tank. You should never come to the point when you are this thirsty, but if you are, take your time to drink and rest for your body to recover.

2 Fast heart rate
When you work out our heart rate is faster, but if you notice a pace faster than the usual by 20 or 30 beats per minute, it may be an early sign of dehydration.

3 Pinch your skin
If you pinch the skin, for example in your forearm or wrist, and if it doesn’t spring back right away, you may be getting dehydrated.

4 You feel cramps
When you cycle in the heat, your body doesn’t only release water when you sweat, also electrolytes and minerals and that’s why your muscles may start aching and you may feel cramps. If you do, stop and drink.

5 Dark urine
If your urine is dark and almost orange, it’s a clear sign you don’t have enough fluids in your body. It may happen after a long time without going to the toilet. The best solution is, of course, a lot of water. Don’t drink coffee, as it may make things worse.

Cycling is good even if there is pollution

It is no secret that Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City start have a problem with air pollution. It’s not that bad in the South these days thanks to the rain, but there are times when it can be worrying to get out there and breathe the fumes of the thousands of cars and motorbikes that flock the streets everyday. Yes, we can use masks despite the heat, but it is reasonable to wonder if the harm of pollution will be higher than the benefits from exercise you get when you cycle. Our slogan is “Climate change, ride a bike” for a reason, we want  a cleaner world, but not at the expense of our own health. Fortunately, it looks like cycling (exercise) is always good, despite the polluted air. At least this is the biggest finding by a group of researchers from the University of Cambridge.

However, according to their research, there is a point after which the benefits of cycling don’t increase even if we keep cycling and another breaking point, when they become smaller than the harm that the air can cause. In Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world (much more than Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City) after 30 minutes the exercise will cease bringing benefits and after one hour it would become more harmful than good. In Hanoi or Saigon the pollution is usually about half the one in Delhi, so cycling in the city would cause more good than harm after two hours.


graphic benefits bike pollution

And there is another factor, wether you cycle or not, you are in the city, you breathe the same air. One of the authors of the study said in this interesting piece in Quartz magazine, “we are not disputing the fact that air pollution kills,” said James Woodcock, one of the authors of the study. “[But] it would do so even when you are sitting at home. What we find is that being physically active, even in polluted cities, can cut that risk. So it’s a win-win.” In short, get on your bike, it’s always better than not doing it. And anyway, we would always advise to get tours or ride outside the city, the countryside is way more exciting for cyclists!