Should You Heat Up or Cool Down for a Better Summer Workout?


Summer is prime time to ditch cardio machines and get some al fresco exercise, but soaring temperatures can make it seem extra grueling. Looking for the best strategy to keep your cool so you can actually get a decent workout? Several studies have found that cooling off your body pre-sweat session in the heat can help—but conversely, new research has discovered that heating it up beforehand may actually be key. So what’s the best bet? Read on for a breakdown of the findings and to figure out which might work for you.


There’s been much research about how chilling out (literally) pre-workout can improve your athletic performance in the heat. One of the most notable studies looked at the effects of ingesting cold drinks right before a run. Downing 16 ounces of a sweet frozen drink 20 minutes before a run helped people run 10 minutes longer than they were able to after sipping cold water without ice, a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found. The reason: It kept their core temperatures lower longer—a full half-hour longer, to be exact—which seems to be a crucial factor in helping to extend your performance when it’s hot out.

Other research has found that cooling yourself off before exercising with ice or by dumping cold water over your body before you head out to pound the pavement keeps your core temp down (and helps you move faster), too. In a study from the University of Brighton in England, putting their arms in icy water or wearing an ice vest or cooled underwear ahead of a 5K run in 90-degree heat helped athletes decrease their run times by nearly 4 percent.


But the same study also found that athletes' performance got an additional boost from spending time in warmed conditions. After riding a bike in the heat for five days in a row, runners were able to improve their 5K race times by an average of 6.6 percent. (And in fact, researchers suggest that taking a hot bath after training in the heat can amp up the effects.)

This might seem contradictory to previous findings about how cooling off is key, but it’s all about letting your body acclimate to the heat. When you’re better acclimated to hot weather, you’ll sweat more and sooner into your workout, which, in turn, keeps you cooler and going longer. Plus, acclimating to the heat improves your cardiovascular fitness—so your heart can handle pumping harder in high temps for an extended period of time, according to a report about heat-training recommendations published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.


So should you guzzle a frosty drink or take a hot shower before heading out on a run? The verdict: Acclimation trumps pre-cooling—if you have at least a few days before an important hot run or workout to do it. Previous research has found it takes at least a few days to get your body used to training in higher temps, and you’ll notice bigger changes in adaptation after a couple weeks (no surprise to anyone who’s noticed it feels easier to exercise in the heat by the end of summer than it does during those first hot days in June).

To try heat acclimation, pedal in a hot group-cycling studio for an hour or take a hot yoga class, and then hop into a steamy shower afterward to reap the most rewards. But if you live in a cooler locale and have an unexpected heat wave or travel to a hotter city for a destination race, downing a slushie before you toe the start line might be the better choice for boosting your performance.

6 Protective Mask Bundles You Can Get On Sale

pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus
pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Daily life has changed immeasurably since the onset of COVID-19, and one of the ways people have had to adjust is by wearing protective masks out in public places, including in parks and supermarkets. These are an essential part of fighting the spread of the virus, and there are plenty of options for you depending on what you need, whether your situation calls for disposable masks to run quick errands or the more long-lasting KN95 model if you're going to work. Check out some options you can pick up on sale right now.

1. Cotton Face Masks; $20 for 4

Protective Masks with Patterns.

This four-pack of washable cotton face masks comes in tie-dye, kids patterns, and even a series of mustache patterns, so you can do your part to mask germs without also covering your personality.

Buy it: $20 for four (50 percent off)

2. CE- and FDA-Approved KN95 Mask; $50 for 10

A woman putting on a protective mask.

You’ve likely heard about the N95 face mask and its important role in keeping frontline workers safe. Now, you can get a similar model for yourself. The KN95 has a dual particle layer, which can protect you from 99 percent of particles in the air and those around you from 70 percent of the particles you exhale. Nose clips and ear straps provide security and comfort, giving you some much-needed peace of mind.

Buy it: $50 for 10 (50 percent off)

3. Three-Ply Masks; $13 for 10

Woman wearing a three-ply protective mask.

These three-ply, non-medical, non-woven face masks provide a moisture-proof layer against your face with strong filtering to keep you and everyone around you safe. The middle layer filters non-oily particles in the air and the outer layer works to block visible objects, like droplets.

Buy it: $13 for 10 (50 percent off)

4. Disposable masks; $44 for 50

A batch of disposable masks.
Odash, Inc.

If the thought of reusing the same mask from one outing to the next makes you feel uneasy, there’s a disposable option that doesn’t compromise quality; in fact, it uses the same three-layered and non-woven protection as other masks to keep you safe from airborne particles. Each mask in this pack of 50 can be worn safely for up to 10 hours. Once you're done, safely dispose of it and start your next outing with a new one.

Buy it: $44 for 50 (41 percent off)

5. Polyester Masks; $22 for 5

Polyester protective masks.

These masks are a blend of 95 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex, and they work to block particles from spreading in the air. And because they're easily compressed, they can travel with you in your bag or pocket, whether you're going to work or out to the store.

Buy it: $22 for five (56 percent off)

6. Mask Protector Cases; $15 for 3

Protective mask case.

You're going to need to have a stash of masks on hand for the foreseeable future, so it's a good idea to protect the ones you’ve got. This face mask protector case is waterproof and dust-proof to preserve your mask as long as possible.

Buy it: $15 for three (50 percent off)

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

7 Online Tech Course Programs That Will Help You Build New Career Skills

dusanpetkovic/iStock via Getty Images Plus
dusanpetkovic/iStock via Getty Images Plus

It's always a good time to build new career skills, and with these tech-related courses, you can learn anything from the basics of Python to the ins and outs of G Suite. These courses will boost your knowledge of the digital world and help you put some valuable new bullet points on your resume. Many of these courses allow you to read through the materials for free, but if you want to take advantage of graded coursework and earn a certificate of completion to include on your LinkedIn profile or resume at the end, there will be a fee of anywhere from $39 to $49.

1. UI/UX Design Specialization

In this four-class specialization on UI/UX design, you’ll discover how to design digital experiences that users can navigate with ease. Over about four months, you’ll learn the basics of visual communication and you’ll be able to practice gathering user feedback to build intuitive, attractive websites and interfaces.

Sign up on Coursera to take all four courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

2. Python for Everybody

Python is quickly gaining ground as one of the most in-demand programming languages for employers. Plus, its fans say it’s highly readable and approachable for new programmers just starting to learn a coding language. If you want to understand the basics of Python, from 101 principles to more advanced database design, these courses will get you started.

Sign up on Coursera to take all five courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

3. Data Science Professional Certificate

Data science is one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In this nine-course professional certificate program, you’ll start by learning basic data science methodology before moving into how to use Python and SQL to analyze and visualize data to forecast future trends. IBM estimates that you’ll complete the entire certificate in about 10 months if you commit four hours per week, but the timing is flexible enough to suit any schedule.

Sign up on Coursera to take all nine courses in this specialization for $39 a month.

4. Computer Architecture

This course, taught by an electrical engineering professor at Princeton, teaches students how to design computer hardware that supports powerful software. But be forewarned: This is an advanced class intended for students with extensive knowledge in computer science. If you’re looking for a beginner-level course, this class—also from Princeton—may be a better fit.

Sign up on Coursera for free.

5. AI for Everyone

If you’re worried that artificial intelligence will drive you out of the workforce, this course will help. Over the course of four weeks, you’ll learn the basics of what is and isn’t possible through AI—and you may even gain some ideas for how to use AI to augment your own career.

Sign up on Coursera for $49.

6. G Suite Administration Specialization

Become a Google Cloud expert with this series of courses put together by Google itself. Over about two months, you’ll learn management tactics and security guidelines for using Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Calendar. This specialization prepares participants to become G Suite administrators at their respective companies and organizations.

Sign up on Coursera to take all five courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

7. Introduction to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is near the top of the list of skills employers are looking for, according to LinkedIn. In this introductory course, you’ll gain a basic understanding of cloud-based networks and get some practice working with IBM Cloud.

Sign up on Coursera for $49.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.