How Cooling Your Hands Can Make a Workout Last Longer

The cooling method helps both elite athletes and overweight people stick with an exercise regimen.

By: Melissa Romero

Can't make it through a 30-minute treadmill run without stopping? Cool your jets.

A new study presented at an American Heart Association meeting found that cooling the palms of the hands while working out may help you stick with an exercise regimen. In the study, obese women who exercised using a device that cooled their hands increased their exercise endurance and ended up shaving almost three inches off their waist.

"This method has been used in elite athletes for awhile," explained lead researcher Stacy T. Sims in a video. "When you take that idea to the obese, sedentary population, one of the biggest barriers and complaints I hear is people are getting too hot and sweaty, so it stops them from exercising."

For 12 weeks, researchers studied 24 obese women who ranged from 30 to 45 years old. Each participant warmed up and cooled down by doing bodyweight exercises and worked out on the treadmill. Each used a device called the AvaCore Rapid Thermal Exchange, which researchers called simply "the glove." The women placed their hands into this vacuum-like glove that contained circulating water at the bottom. Half of the group's devices contained water at about 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit, while the control group's water was at body temperature.

Neither group knew the temperature difference between their devices. Their goal was to build up to doing 45-minute periods of exercise at 80 percent of their maximum heart rate.

Researchers found that the control group dropped out early. On the other hand, the cooling group's participation rate was 98 percent, and over the course of the study they shaved an average of three inches from their waists and were able to go off blood pressure medication. They also walked 1.5 miles five minutes faster than in the beginning of the study and expressed interest in continuing the exercise regimen in the future.

"Cooling was the participation factor that made people feel motivated to exercise," said Sims.

However, the glove device is costly and is typically found in professional sports training facilities and hospitals. To mimic the cooling effect, Sims suggests freezing a bottle of water and holding it while exercising. "The other aspect is as the water melts, you drink it so you get cold ingestion--it's a double cooling effect."

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