Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ice water to stay cool

Hot weather is upon us.  How can one stay cooler in these hot temperatures?  How do you get in your outdoor exercise and stay hydrated?  A few weeks ago we went on a morning bike ride in Sonoma County, California.  Morning temps are cooler but by noon the temperature was in the 90’s.   The bicycle shop gave us a frozen water bottle and a thermal pouch to put it in.   Why was this ice water such a great idea for the hot temperatures?  What are other ways to try to stay cool when the outside temp is sizzling? The Berkeley Wellness Letter has a great article on Exercising Safely in the Heat.   A summary of their tips are noted below.
Cooling your body from the inside:

  • Ice water:  This morning when I bicycled, I filled up my water bottle with ice and water.  Cold or icy beverages have been proven to cool you down internally.  Cold beverages are helpful, but what works best is an icy drink as it has more cooling power.  But drinking too much, too fast can lead to abdominal problems or the “brain freeze” headache.  I usually just drink some icy water throughout the hour long bike ride to stay cool and to rehydrate.  You can also do what the bike shop did, and freeze a bottle of water to have to take with you on your walk or bike ride.

Cooling from the outside
1.  Icy cold cloths, towels – research has shown that applying a cold towel to your arms, neck, thighs, face for a few minutes (5-20 minutes) before exercising can cool down your body externally.  Take a small towel, dunk it in some ice water, or put a dampened towel in the freezer for a bit to get it nice and cold.  Before you run, walk or bike, apply the cold towel to your neck, arms, head. 
2.  Cold water – Just putting your hands and arms in cool or icy water can help you cool down externally.  But not too cold, about 50-68 degrees is fine.  Do this for about 10 minutes and you can help your body cool down.  Or, the Wellness Letter suggests “carrying a bottle of cold water in each hand.”  But not a real practical suggestion. 
3.   Choose loose-fitting, lightweight clothing – yoga pants may be in style for women but not the best choice when exercising in the heat outside.  Light colors are better than dark colors for staying cool as dark colors absorb heat.  Your choice as to fiber type.  I prefer cotton for staying cooler well other prefer the polyester that supposedly whisks away the sweat.  To me the polyester fabrics are like a heater as they don’t “breathe” but what every works for you.
4.   Wear a hat – when bicycling I wear the helmet.  Choosing a light color helmet with air vents can help you stay cooler.   When walking, I always wear a hat.   You want a 4 inch brim to keep the sun off of your face and neck.  If you can, dampen the hat with ice water or cool water.  The Wellness Letter noted, “a hat made of polyester in a twill weave trapped the best heat and humidity in people exercising under hot weather conditions.”  Choose a light colored hat that you will wear.

Other suggestions for exercising in the heat.  Acclimate yourself.  It can take up to two weeks to get your body used to the hotter weather.  So start off with less time outside and add more time as your body adjusts.  Exercise in early morning when it is cooler.  For more details on how to stay cool in hot weather, read the article, Exercising Safely in the Heat.  To prevent heat exhaustion see this short video at WebMD, The Basics:  Heat Exhaustion.

water on ice

Drink Ice water to stay cool in hot weather.


  1. It's better to be over-prepared when it comes to outdoor activities and workouts. Rather than bringing an old bandana and bucket of ice to stay cool, throw one of these cooling towels in your pack to provide relief during and after a long, hot day. Simply soak the towel in water, wring it out, snap it a few times, and voila — a cool, refreshing towel to take your woes away.

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