Cool hands lead to hotter workouts and better health

keeping cool with a snowmanDo you struggle to sustain your enthusiasm during an exercise session ?

Exercise is typically hot and sweaty work. If you’ve got extra padding, exercise is even hotter work.

Taking the heat out of it

All of you ends up feeling hot and bothered, if you could feel less overheated, you would probably be able to exercise a little longer………….

Researchers from Stanford University in California reasoned one way to avoid succumbing to the hot and bothered feeling during a work out, would be to keep your hands cool. After all, when your hands and feet are cold, you tend to feel COLD, irrespective of how toasty the rest of you is.

They team tested out the theory using a fancy cooling device, the AvaCore Rapid Thermal Exchange on a group of obese women.

Tubby ladies go cold

The team signed up a group of tubby ladies with BMIs between 30 and 34.9, into a 12 week programme designed to improve their cardiovascular fitness.

All the ladies were hooked up to the fancy machine, but unbeknownst to them, the temperature of the water was manipulated in the device. Half the ladies were effectively dangling their palms in cool water (60.8 F / 16 °C), while the other half had body temperature water rushing past.

Basic thermodynamics meant that the ladies exposed to the cool water, were able to get rid of a little of their “hot and bothered”. Since the hot hands are able to warm up the cool water, which leave the hot hands a little cooler and the cool water a little hotter. Those exposed to water at normal body temperature would not benefit from nature’s desire to share things out, as much.

Hup two three four

Both sets of ladies were put through their paces.

The programme kicked off with push ups, followed by lunges and then a session on the treadmill.

The objective, to increase exercise duration up to 45 minute sessions, in which the exerciser was working out at around 80 % of their maximum heart rates.

Cool ladies left exercising

45 minutes at 80 % of your maximum heart rate is not a walk in the park. There were lots of drop outs. The drop outs primarily came from the ladies who were not enjoying the cool hand advantage.

Three months down the line the ladies exercise prowness was assessed. The cool hands group outperformed the hot hands, in terms of time to walk 1.5 miles. This improved physical performance translated into better bodies :

  • Waist size dropped by a couple of inches
  • Blood pressure and exercise heart rates also showed improvements

Hug a snowman

Odds are you’re not going to have access to a fancy hand cooling device, so maybe you’re thinking how the hell does this science help me.

If you use your imagination, you can cool your hands while exercising. One simple suggestion – workout while holding a bottle of cold water.

Go on, hug a snowman and burn some calories.

And at the end of your workout, spoil yourself with a muscle massage.

Cool hands may be the key to increasing exercise capacity  - abstract presented at American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions.

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Further reading

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