Hey Duffnatics…we get it. It’s HOT. We’ve been blogging about it for weeks. And we’ve talked to countless people all over Mount Pleasant and Charleston who have been slogging through workouts, needing to take breaks (when they ordinarily wouldn’t need to) and even been feeling dizzy and overheated. While summer heat is par for the course here in the Lowcountry, it’s SUPER IMPORTANT to take seriously! According to HealthResearchFunding.org, “Heat stroke from exercise is one of the 3 leading causes of sudden death in sports activities.” Click HERE for Mayo Clinic’s list of Heat-Related-Illness Warning Signs.
So how do we keep up our workouts while staying safe in the heat? It turns out that ramping up the ice factor may just do the trick.
ICE ICE BABY
Naturally the sports marketing industry has seized on this trend, offering a bevy of products designed to cool you down while working out. According to the New York Times, “Companies sell devices, like cooling vests to wear before exercise, or even portable cold baths for pre-race immersion. Researchers have tested methods like having athletes swim for an hour in cold water or sit in a cold room or stand in a cold shower. No matter what the method, companies and researchers report a precooling effect.”
That’s all great, but who has the time—let alone the willpower—to soak in an ice bath before a summer run? Great News! New studies are showing that cooling from the INSIDE may be more effective than all of the other “devices” put together.
A SLUSHY SOLUTION
O Magazine recently reported on this and suggests cool[ing] off your insides with a slushie: “‘Researchers have known for some time that lowering core body temperature before and during exercise can help athletes perform better,’ says Rebecca Stearns, director of education at the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut—and now we have a tasty, science-backed idea of how to do that. A study published in 2010 in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that when Australian athletes drank a flavored slushie before running on a treadmill in a hot room, they were able to keep up the pace for an average of 10 minutes longer than when they drank cold, flavored water.”
A concurrent article published in The New York Times agrees, adding some more scientific backup: “A New Zealand endurance athlete and exercise researcher says he has found a method that is. All you have to do is drink an ice slurry, also known as a slushie, before exercising. In a new study, he reports that young male recreational athletes who drank a syrup-flavored ice slurry just before running on a treadmill in hot room could keep going for an average of 50 minutes before they had to stop. When they drank only syrup-flavored cold water, they could run for an average of 40 minutes.”
HOW IT WORKS
So why is that? The NYT continues, ”…the limiting factor might have been the men’s heart rates. In both groups, exhaustion occurred when heart rates reached about 185 beats per minute. Those who drank the slurry hit that heart rate 10 minutes later than those who drank cold water. Dr. Montain says the heart beats faster and faster, trying to get blood to the skin, for cooling, and to the muscles for exercising, until it just can’t keep up. ‘The heart can’t send blood everywhere without the blood pressure falling,’ Dr. Montain said. ‘At some point, you can’t maintain your blood pressure.’ But, Dr. Montain said, what mattered in the end was that the simple solution of drinking an ice slurry worked.”
In pain English? The article is essentially says that when your body overheats, your heart pumps extra hard to send blood to the skin to cool it off. By downing an ice-cold slushie (which can be up to 20 degrees cooler than plain water), you are taking away the need for your heart to do that extra work (because you’re cooling yourself down!). So instead of wasting that extra energy trying to cool off, your body is able to continue to work harder on athletic endeavors for a longer period of time. You’re essentially allowing your body to multitask!
GO FOR THE HEALTHY OPTIONS
But before you grab a Circle K Cherry Slush on the way to the gym, keep in mind that most commercial “slushies” are LOADED with sugar (which you KNOW will undermine your wellness).
But no fear! Thank Your Body has some great tips on ways to make healthy fruit slushies: “When you make them at home, you can be certain that your fruit slush will be full of wholesome, organic fruit and sweetened (if you choose to) with something healthy instead of high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. The abundance of fresh, sun-ripe fruit this time of year makes it easy to think up great combinations like Watermelon Mint, Mango Berry, and Blueberry Lime.” Click HERE for some amazing recipes.
Want to skip the flavor all together? Just stick with your ice! Throw a bunch in the blender to make ice-chips! Click HERE for great tips on how to make great slushy ice.