It is going to be HOT HOT HOT here in southern California this week. Like triple digit heat. Hot. Very Hot. But even though it’s hot, most of us still have to, or want to, do stuff outside like work, exercise, garden, attend kids’ sporting events, go to the beach, head out on a hike, or walk as fast as possible between bits of shade or interior environments ;)
Pre-Cool to Beat the Heat
So what to do if you’re going to be in the heat all day, especially if you’re going to be active and moving? We all know (I hope) that we need to hydrate and drink water, drinking when we’re thirsty ’til we’re thirsty no more. But did you know that you can also “pre-cool” your muscles, brain, and body?
There are a couple ways you can precool. One, which I’ve done and don’t particularly care for, is sub-merging yourself in ice or a cold water bath, which lowers your core body temperature, increasing your body’s capacity to store heat when you go outside (it essentially takes longer for your body to heat up once you enter the blazingly hot day).
The Hardcore Pre-Cooling Method
If you’re precooling to improve endurance performance (like a race, not just a long stint in the garden – although you can do it for ultra-gardening just as much for ultra-marathoning, I imagine), full body submersion for 30-60 minutes can lead to faster times and more stamina. But, for me, NO THANK YOU. I’ve done ice baths for 5 minutes after intense workouts and hated every last second of it! (Although, I have to admit, I did feel better afterward and felt like I recovered faster. But that could have been a placebo effect – after suffering through the joint-achy cold for 5 minutes I believed it better freaking work!) Cold showers are much more tolerable, though not as effective (but still better than not doing it!) and you can team them up with drinking ice-slurries prior to heading out the door to get more of a cooling effect.
Or Just Have a Sno-Cone (well, an ice slurry)
Or just drink the ice slurry! Now we’re talking! Ice slurries sound much more appealing! And you can even flavor them up with citrus or berries or cucumber or some other refreshing, whole-food add-in blended into your ice. And drinking ice slurries actually lowers your body MORE than the awful ice bath and gives your body greater capacity for heat storage. So why didn’t I just give you this one and skip the ice bath method? Because some of you are nuts and like ice baths or equate discomfort (torture?) with better ;)
Back to the slurries. Slurping your ice slurry for 30 minutes before heading out into the heat works best (and prevents brain freeze by not slamming it!). Another benefit of the slurries is that it also helps keep you hydrated.
It’s also super simple. Throw some ice and a bit o’ water into your Magic Bullet or other mixing machine and make a slurry. As I mentioned above, add some fresh squeezed citrus, some melon, some berries (do frozen!), some cucumber or herbs (mint, anyone? Mint AND strawberries? Mint and cucumber? Watermelon lime? Lemon raspberry? Yum!) to snazzy it up. Just keep it to fruits and veggies to keep the water content high and don’t turn it into a smoothie – it’s just a touch of the add-ins and mostly ice and water to do the precooling trick.
Keep Cool With Tried and True Methods, too
And don’t forget to do other smart things if you’re going to be working or playing in hot environments: wear proper clothing, consume a sufficient amount of calories to fuel activity (from WHOLE food sources, like fresh fruits and veggies which also contain loads of water), and drink fluids when you’re thirsty.
It’s going to be hot out there, folks. Stay cool.
As always, thanks for reading my post!
As a reminder – the Amazon links are affiliate links – I do get a small commission if you buy something from a link. I don’t want you to buy anything – I just have to tell you to keep the FDA happy :)
Reference for my nerd friends
Jones, P.R., Barton, C., Morrissey, D., Maffulli, N., & Hemmings, S. (2012). Pre-cooling for endurance exercise performance in the heat: A systemic review. BMC Medicine, 10(1), 1-19. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-10-166