Want a better workout? Keep your hands cool.By Deborah Wilburn
File this one under weird but true: Just keeping your hands cool while exercising can reduce the discomfort of overheating and sweating so you work out longer. And if there's anything women don't like to do, it's sweat.
The finding comes from a new study in Circulation by Stacy T. Sims, Ph.D., a research scientist and exercise physiologist at Stanford University School of Medicine. She recruited a group of 24 obese, yet healthy women ages 30 to 45 to test the idea that cooling their hands might help them exercise longer -- a practice already used by some professional athletes. None of the women had a history of long-term exercise. Sims enlisted obese women since they tend to give up exercise easily due to sweating, fatigue, exhaustion, and overheating -- fat acts as an insulator.
Sims divided the women into two groups -- one held a device that ran cool water (60.8 degrees F) through it, while the second group's device had water at body temperature (98.6 F) running through it. The women then attended three exercise sessions a week for 12 weeks. The workouts included a mix of strength-training and aerobic exercise.
At the end of three months the results were impressive. The women with cooled hands took more than 2 inches off their waists, lowered their blood pressure from 139/84 to 124/70, and shaved an average of five minutes off their time for a treadmill test. The women with body-temperature water showed no significant differences in any of the measures -- likely, notes Sims, because many of them dropped out early and skipped a lot of sessions.
No matter your weight, keeping hands cool is one way to help you keep going when you'd rather cut your cardio routine short or skip the ab exercises. How to do it? Freeze a bottle of water and hold it in your bare palm as you work out, says Sims. As it melts, take a nice hydrating drink, which also helps your body cool down.
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