Sprinklers

Why should kids have all the fun? Water keeps us all cooler in the hot weather.

Quick—what do a dog’s tongue, a wet bandana around your neck, the sweat dripping down your back, and the shower spray at your local park have in common?

They are all examples of using water to keep cool during these “dog days” of summer. In case you were curious, physics tells us why. Physics, the science of matter, energy, force, and motion, tells us that when water evaporates it changes from a liquid to a gas. The water molecules need energy to do this, and as they float off your skin they take it from your body in the form of heat. Our bodies have a great self-cooling system—our pores produce water in the form of sweat! All those millions of sweat molecules evaporating, each taking away a tiny amount of heat really add up, and so your body feels cooler. This is why your skin can actually feel surprisingly cool to the touch in the middle of a heat wave.

And, when air moves across the surface of your skin it increases the rate of evaporation. (Dogs, by the way, have few sweat glands and cool themselves by panting to help the water evaporate from their tongues.) But sometimes, even with a fan or a breeze, our natural body processes can use a little help. Especially during a summer workout, when our bodies are creating their own heat by burning calories.

To keep cool during a steamy workout, we need to add water!

Quick Fixes

Your body radiates heat from your head, hands, feet, and ears, so prioritize the cooling of those parts and the rest of you will thank you.

• Wet your head. There goes the expensive blow-out, but since you lose a lot of body heat from your head (that’s why we wear hats in winter), this can make a tremendous difference in your comfort level. As an alternative, just splash some cool water on your face and neck.
• Wear a wet bandana on your neck or forehead (headband style).
• Place an icepack on the back of your head.
• Wear a wet t-shirt or wet your clothing.
• Run cold water over your hands and wrists for a few seconds. This is my favorite method when I’m reaching an outdoor Nancercize class. I walk over to a drinking fountain, take a few big gulps, and then throw water on may arms, face, neck—whatever is exposed.

These tips help, but let’s face it—they are not that much fun.

If you want to laugh and feel cool at the same time, nothing works better than an outdoor spray shower. Lucky for us, park and playground designers are including water elements and shower sprays more often in new designs and in re-designs. Go on, reward yourself after a steamy workout and be a kid again!

(Note: Not all parks have water sprays open to all ages; check parks policy.)

2 Responses to “Staying Cool during Summer Workouts: Just Add Water”

  1. Hi, Nancy! I’ve just stumbled across your blog after reading a comment of yours on one of Fast Company’s posts. Love your business concept and, since I coach therapists and other allied health professionals on how to build a strong private practice, will definitely be using you as an example!

    It’s wrong, I know, but I have historically be exercise-phobic and, of course at 52, my body has all the tell-tale signs. However, during the last 4 months, I’ve been swimming in a pool and am definitely experiencing the benefits of exercise joyfully for the first time in my life. I suspect if I had had PE teachers that were more in tune with your philosophy than a traditional coaches’ philosophy, I would have had a very different relationship to my body and to exercise. Oh, well . . . better late than never!

    I look forward to visiting your blog often and will be happy to redirect others to you, too. Blessings to you on your journey!

    Reply

    • Tamara,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I was not the most enthusiastic PE student either! Swimming, playing in the park on the swings, etc., riding my bike were so much more fun. I try to instill that sense of play and freedom in my adult classes. I agree with a speaker at the recent Greater & Greener conference: “Parks are a part of our health care system.” Or, they should be!

      Reply

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