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Cool hands can help your workout

Frances McInnis
Shine On
March 15, 2012
woman exercising
woman exercising

We all know some well-worn tricks for keeping at a workout regime: finding fun activities, going with a friend, using energetic music to stay motivated. But here's a new one: keeping your hands cool.

In a small preliminary study conducted at Stanford University on obese women, subjects who held a device that cooled their hands improved their overall cardiovascular fitness and tolerance for exercise more than those who did not.

Palms are one of the body's most important heat controllers, and keeping them cool may help people exercise more and longer by combating uncomfortable sensations of overheating, sweating, fatigue and rapid heart rate.

"Obese women often complain about sweating and getting tired because they're walking around with extra insulation," says Stacy T. Sims, the study's lead researcher and an exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist at Stanford.

"If you can slow the rate internal temperature rises and cool someone who is obese, they don't store as much heat and don't feel as uncomfortable. They can do more work."

[See also: Love of fatty foods may be genetic]

While the women in the study used costly devices containing circulating water that are generally only found in professional sports training facilities, clinics and hospitals, Sims suggested that holding a bottle of cold water could also do the trick—and has some added benefits.

"Freeze a bottle of water and take it with you so you have it in your hand as you exercise, and you can drink cold water as it is melting," she told WebMD Health News.

Carol Ewing Garber, a professor movement sciences at Columbia University, told The Huffington Post that the physiological mechanism behind the improved performance is not yet known. She suggests that cooling in general may be beneficial to the exerciser, or that cooling the palms could improve blood flow or impact the motor neurons that cool the muscle.

For a workout you can do anywhere with zero equipment, check out the video below.

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