You may have heard the oft-quoted idiom “cold hands, warm heart” (which researchers at Yale debunked in 2008), but did you know cold hands could help you stick with your workouts?
A study recently presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions found that obese women who kept the palms of their hands cool while working out were able to exercise longer.
“Obese women often complain about sweating and getting tired because they’re walking around with extra insulation,” said Stacy Sims, Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher and exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist at Stanford University in California.
Sims’ research followed 24 women ranging from 30-45 years old with body mass indexes in the obese range for a total of three months. All of the women completed their workouts with their hands inside cylinders of water, half at 60.8 degrees and half at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Sims hypothesized that the cool water group would perform better in their workouts because the water would help keep their body temperatures at a more comfortable level.
All of the women completed the same workout regimen, warming up and then working on a treadmill outfitted with the water cylinders, followed by a cool-down.
On the first and last day of the study, the women completed a 1.5-mile timed walk. The cool water group performed significantly better by the end of the study, cutting seven minutes off of the average completion time. The group also slimmed down, losing almost three inches off their waists and lowering their resting blood pressures.
The group exercising with their hands in the body-temperature water cylinders didn’t see any significant health benefits during the study period. On top of that, attrition was an issue.
“The control group dropped out quite early,” Sims said. “The women who had the cooling device continued to participate and didn’t have an issue with attrition because they finally didn’t feel uncomfortable exercising.
Not ready to outfit your treadmill with temperature-regulated cylinders of water? Me neither. Sims says whether you’re working out in the gym, outside, or at home, you can try holding a frozen bottle of water to get the same effect. When the ice melts you can drink the cold water, which will both help keep you cool and help you stay hydrated.