A small study conducted at Stanford University evaluated exercise fatigue among 24 women, age 30 to 45, with Body Mass Index (BMI) between 30 and 35, classified as obese. Participants were divided into two groups, and both participated in three exercise sessions each week for 12 weeks. On the first and last day of the study each participant was timed for a 1.5 miles walk on a treadmill.
During the course of the exercise sessions each group held a cooling device in their palms during a treadmill walking session. Stacy Sims, a research scientist and exercise physiologist at Stanford, decided to test these cooling devices in obese women, who sometimes abandon physical activity due to overheating and fatigue. The device is already in use by some professional athletes, according to Sims. For the study, however, one group actually experienced cool water (60.8 F) running through the device, while the water temperature for the second group was body temperature.
The benefit of the cooling device was apparent in group comparisons. The cooling group improved the 1.5 mile treadmill walk by 5 minutes, increased their exercising heart rate by 15%, reduced their average blood pressure substantially, and lost more than 2” off their waists. The “control” group showed no significant improvements in these measures.
The differences could have been due, in part, to the cooled group’s tendency to stick with the program. Sims reported that the “control” group skipped sessions more frequently.