Summer is almost here, and kudos to people who keep up their workout routines when the heat hits. But if you’re someone who abandons their weekly exercise for a poolside iced tea, research may provide the chill pill you need to stay on track. The study, published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, found that taking a cool bath before exercise or spritzing water on your face during exercise could help keep you cool and improve your performance. For the study, researchers recruited nine trained male runners to perform three timed 5K running trials in a heated environment (91°F) on non-motorized treadmills. Two of the trials included cooling methods: The first trial was preceded by a 30 minute cool (73 to 74°F) bath and the second trial misted water on the men’s faces while they ran. The third trial didn’t include any cooling methods. During all three trials, researchers monitored the men’s temperatures, cardiac and respiratory function, muscular activation, and perceptual responses to the cooling methods. They found that:
- The men had significantly faster performance times in both of the cooling trials compared with the non-cooling trial.
- Both cooling methods significantly reduced forehead temperatures and heat perception, and increased muscle activation, compared with no cooling.
- The cool bath reduced rectal temperatures and sweat rates compared with misting and no cooling, suggesting that this was the more effective method for keeping the core body temperature down during exercise in the heat.
These findings suggest that summer heat doesn’t have to put a halt on your fitness goals. To put these tips into action, take a cool bath or a dip in the pool before going on your run. Or, just bring a spray bottle along the next time you head to the track. In addition to these cooling practices, it’s also important to take a few safety precautions while exercising in high temperatures: Wear light clothing and sunscreen with adequate SPF, and drink plenty of water.
Source: Journal of Sports Sciences