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How cold showers improve athletic performance

AUG 6, 2022

Minute 1: How to get more out of your walk

Sometimes our readers remind us a little of this scene in the Blues Brothers, when the band stumbles into a gig at a redneck bar. Dan Ackroyd’s character, wondering how his brother screwed up this booking, eyes the bartender with a calico shirt and cotton candy hair and asks her: “What kind of music do you usually have here?” Her response: “Oh, we got both kinds – we got country and western.” That’s kinda like when we asked our readers if they like other sports and 60% responded: “Oh yeah. I like running and hiking.” We had to chuckle since most of us here at global HQ had the same answer. The beauty of these slower-paced outings is that they can serve as a cooldown or a simple way to stay mobile, but they can also provide robust training. For a new take on pedestrian pursuits, check out: “Turn a Simple Walk Into a Full-Body Workout With These 3 Tips.” The story provides a bit of counterintuitive advice – do a warmup before you begin your walk. This provides an opportunity to engage your core and improve your balance with pre-walk moves like this one: “Standing, Sitting, or Lying Alternating Elbow-to-Knee: Abdominals.” Next, you can include strength exercises at certain milestones to burn extra calories and build muscle on the go. Pushups, air squats, and planks will cover most of the major muscle groups in your body. Lastly, consider adding weight to your walk. Take a look at “The 1980s Walking Workout That Will Actually Get You in Shape.” The method was popularized by Dr. Leonard Schwartz, who started “heavyhands walking” after noticing that cross country skiers had some of the best VO2 max levels of any endurance athlete. The idea is that the more muscle groups you engage as you walk, the more you will build your aerobic capacity. By carrying weights, you’ll keep your arms working just as hard as your legs, and the results will speak for themselves.

Minute 2: Cold showers and the power of thermoregulation therapy

We hope we were able to convince some folks to try cold therapy with the last issue’s story on anti-saunas. Granted, it’s an easy sell during a summer as hot as this one, but not everyone has access to an anti-sauna. Instead, there are some simpler and cheaper ways to reap the benefits of cold therapy, as detailed in this new piece from Polar: “Are There Any Benefits to Having a Cold Shower After a Workout?” Research on cold showers, ice baths, and cryotherapy have shown them to be effective at improving immunity, mental health, and overall well being. Cold water immersion can also reduce soreness and inflammation, as well as raise energy levels to prevent you from crashing after a difficult exercise session. It is recommended, however, to keep your showers on the warmer side before bed, as the cold can actually stimulate your nervous system to the point where it’s difficult to wind down. In addition to boosting your recovery, keeping cool can also improve your running performance. Trail Runner provides a good overview of techniques and tactics in this new story: “The Great Cooling Revolution in Endurance Sports.” #KeepYourCool

Minute 3: Can sitting in silence bring health benefits?

Here’s our low key wellness suggestion of the day: sit in a quiet space doing nothing. And no, listening to a calming app on your phone doesn’t count. As primitive as it may sound, new research indicates that quiet or silent environments can have a profound effect on our nervous systems, leading to all kinds of physical and mental improvements. Here is “An Ode to Silence: Why You Need It in Your Life.” Silence can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rates, while improving your ability to focus. It can also create space for us to recharge, improving our creativity and opening channels to better understand our thoughts, emotions, and relationships. Quiet spaces aren’t always easy to come by, especially when traveling, but this list is a good place to start for ideas whether you are a few miles from home or in another country: “12 Welcoming Places To Find Quiet While Traveling.” Bookstores, cemeteries, and hotel lobbies are some unlikely spots that are generally open to the public, and about as quiet a place as one can find. In our search for silence, it’s important to remember that quiet spaces are a luxury not everyone has access to, and one’s comfort shouldn’t be prioritized over the need for another’s self expression. These concerns are addressed in this provocative new essay in The Atlantic: “Why Do Rich People Love Quiet?

Minute 4: Runners, this is what’s wrong with your feet

As many of our running friends can attest, foot pain isn’t just a problem for grandparents, nurses and hot coal walkers. The feet are an important part of a runner’s propulsion, shock absorption, and stabilization. With all that going on, it’s no wonder runners commonly experience foot injuries. As you get into your 40s, the natural pad of fat on your feet begins to diminish, leading to foot faults. If you’ve got pain or signs of dysfunction, it’s best to get to the bottom of it early, and this list can steer you in the right direction: “Runner’s Feet – Common Problems & Prevention.” Inflammation is one of the most common issues, resulting in things like achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and metatarsalgia. Then, there are injuries like black toenails and blisters, caused by friction or stress applied to the wrong places. Most foot injuries are best prevented by picking the right footwear, or even using a custom insert in some cases. Here is “How Orthotics Can Keep You Running Longer” along with a countering view: “Do You Really Need Custom Made Orthotics for Running?” Custom orthotics are inserts made to correct the positioning of your foot as you move, and they’re great for correcting issues like over or underpronation. However, they can be quite expensive, and by picking the right sneaker beforehand, you may eliminate your need for aftermarket parts. Services like Fleet Feet’s fit id scan your feet to build a 3d model and select the kind of shoe that will work best.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • National parks are more popular than ever. Something about being locked inside for a year to wait out the pandemic has people clamoring to get out into nature, and the rise in popularity we saw in 2020 has persisted, making most NPs more crowded than ever. Overall, that’s a good thing – better to be outdoors than glued to a screen – but it has left some observers wondering: “Has The Golden Age Of National Parks Slipped Away While We Weren't Watching?” Fear not, as there’s plenty of space to go around. At the Great Smoky Mountains, one of the most visited parks in the world, there are still plenty of ways to hike and enjoy the serenity of the great outdoors. For a guide to your visit, read “Yes, You Can Avoid the Crowds at (the Very Popular) Great Smoky Mountain National Park.”

  • There’s an old myth among fitness circles that cardio and weight training can’t exist in harmony. Like most myths, there’s a kernel of truth in that performing at the elite level in any discipline requires focused efforts. For the average fitness enthusiast, there’s nothing wrong with doing both, and the two can even support each other’s development if done correctly. To prove cardio doesn’t ruin your strength gains, a pair of bodybuilders took it upon themselves to run every day for 30 days and track the results. To see what they uncovered, read "How 30 Days of Running Changed These 2 Bodybuilders’ Physiques.”

  • We’ve got to say, reading headlines about increasing monkeypox outbreaks has us feeling like we’re living through Groundhog Day. One pandemic was enough, we could do without another one all over again. It’s understandable to be concerned about the disease, given the last few years of difficulty we’ve all experienced, but it’s important to keep our fears in perspective. For an expert breakdown on the risks monkeypox presents, who needs to be most concerned, and who’s at low risk of contraction, read “How Easy Is It to Catch Monkeypox?

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Winning a Marathon is impressive enough. Doing it after being led astray by a confused race marshal? Now you’re just showing off. But seriously, our hats are off to Victor Kiplangat of Uganda, who took gold at the UK’s Commonwealth Games despite a navigational setback. Nearing the finish line, Kiplangat followed a lead vehicle that was diverting off the course instead of sticking to the blue line that marked the course. Realizing his mistake, he had to double back and rejoin the actual course. Accidents happen, but championship level athletes are the ones who can adapt and press on without missing a beat. You can read about Kiplangat’s victory in “Marathon runner goes wrong way in race but still wins Commonwealth Games gold” and watch the entertaining footage of his mistake and his recovery in the one-minute video below.


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