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

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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.

THE CASE FOR COOLING DOWN

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.

HOW HEATING UP MIGHT HELP

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.

THE VERDICT

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.

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Amazon Is Offering Free Same-Day Shipping to Prime Customers for the Holidays
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The holidays are arriving early for Amazon Prime customers—along with every gift they’ve yet to order through the online shopping behemoth. Amazon has put all of its Prime members on the “Nice” list this year, and is rewarding them with free same-day shipping from now through Christmas Eve. While that may be cutting it a little too close for some shoppers, the limited-time perk has perpetual procrastinators singing “Joy to the World.”

“We are continually investing in Prime, adding more selection and making delivery faster and more convenient,” Greg Greeley, Amazon Prime’s VP, said in a statement. “In fact, in 2016, the last Prime Free Same-Day order from Amazon.com delivered in time for Christmas was ordered at 10:23 a.m. on Christmas Eve. The order included Venum Contender Boxing Gloves, and was delivered to a Prime member in Richmond, Virginia at 2:42 p.m.—the very same day, for free.

(Whoever received those boxing gloves last year: now you know.)

This year’s holiday shipping schedule will allow gift-givers to push that deadline even further. While two-day shipping is always free for Prime customers, if that were the only option, they’d have to be done buying all their gifts by Friday, December 22. This year’s shipping perk means that you can push your shopping all the way to Christmas Eve, as long as you live in one of Amazon’s Same-Day Delivery zones (you just have to order by 9:30 a.m.). Even better: If Prime Now is available in your area, you have until 9:14 p.m. on December 24 to place your order and still have something fabulous to stick under the Christmas tree.

Of course, zero-dollar shipping costs are far from the $99 service’s only perk: unlimited streaming of Prime Video movies and TV shows—including Amazon-produced series like The Man in High Castle, Mozart in the Jungle, One Mississippi, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—is there for the bingeing. Free Kindle books, photo storage, and grocery delivery are among Prime’s many other benefits.

Not a Prime member? No problem! “Even if you are not currently a member, holiday shoppers can try Prime for free for 30 days and get two-day, one-day, and same-day shipping for free,” says Greeley.

It’s hard to argue with free.

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The Most (and Least) Expensive States for Staying Warm This Winter
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It’s that time of year again: Temperatures outside have plummeted, while your monthly heating bill is on the rise. If you want an idea of how much heat will cost you this winter (perhaps you blocked out last year’s damage to your bank account), one reliable indicator is location.

Average energy expenses vary from state to state due to factors like weather, house size, and local gas prices. Using data from sources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, WalletHub calculated the average monthly utility bill totals for all 50 states plus Washington D.C. in 2017.

Source: WalletHub

The personal finance website looked at four energy costs: electricity, natural gas, car fuel, and home heating oil. After putting these components together, Connecticut was found to be the state with the highest energy costs in 2017, with an average of $380 in monthly bills, followed by Alaska with $332 and Rhode Island with $329.

That includes data from the summer and winter months. For a better picture of which state’s residents spend the most on heat, we have to look at the individual energy costs. Michigan, which ranks 33rd overall, outdoes every other state in the natural gas department with an average bill of $60 a month. Alaska is close behind with $59, followed by Rhode Island With $58.

People living in Maine prefer oil to heat their homes, spending $84 a month on the fuel source. All six New England states—Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts—occupy the top six spots in this category.

So which state should you move to if you want to see your heating bill disappear? In Florida, the average household spends just $3 a month on natural gas and $0 on heating oil. In Hawaii, on average, the oil bill is $0 as well, and slightly higher for gas at $4. Of course, they make up for it when it comes time to crank up the AC: Both states break the top 10 in highest electricity costs.


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