Cool gear to help you recover from a hot, sweaty workout
Chill out with these helpful recovery tools.
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From heated yoga classes to outdoor runs and HIIT classes, there are many ways to get very, very sweaty when you exercise. Sweating has its share of physical and mental benefits–like improved athletic performance and increased aerobic benefits. But hot workouts in any form can raise your body temp and cause dehydration, which also puts stress on your body.
That sweat dripping down your back should be a point of pride, but it’s also vital to recover properly. If you need some help cooling off after a sweaty workout, these items may help.
1. A good water bottle to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
You lose water while exercising through sweat, and on a hot day you’ll need extra hydration. You should replenish the fluids you lose after your workout, but the best way to avoid severe dehydration is to drink up before you get active or spend any time in the heat. Not only will proper hydration boost your performance, but it can help your muscles recover and is beneficial for heart health.
Experts recommend drinking 15 to 20 ounces of water one to two hours before your workout, 8 to 10 ounces of water 15 minutes before your workout, and 8 ounces every 15 minutes during your workout. And if you’re someone who sweats a lot, you’ll likely need to drink more than the recommended amount to stay properly hydrated.
A new water bottle may be just the ticket to help keep you hydrated. We've tested a bunch, and the best one we've found is the Brita BB11 Premium Filtering Water Bottle. It’s made of stainless steel that keeps your water cold for a full 24 hours, which is ideal for those sweltering workouts when you just need something to provide some cool relief. It also comes in two sizes, 20 ounces and 32 ounces, so you can pick the vessel that best suits your hydration needs.
2. Sunscreen to reapply after sweating
Outdoor activities like running or paddleboarding are all fun and games—until you get back home and realize the sun turned you lobster-red (even though you totally applied sunscreen at the beginning of the day). Not only do you have to remember to put on sunscreen, you have to make sure you’re applying the proper amount–for adults that's two tablespoons or roughly the size of a shot glass–and reapplying every two hours or after you sweat or swim. And make sure you remember to get commonly missed places like your ears and the back of your neck.
SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 is a great option for an “invisible” mineral sunscreen and luxurious feel on the face. And for a more budget-friendly whole-body option, try the Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion. It comes in SPF 30 and SPF 50, and is meant to have a weightless feel that stays comfortable while sweating. Reviewers love the consistency of this sunscreen and say it feels more like a lotion than a typical sunscreen.
- Get SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 from Dermstore for $35
- Get Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion from Amazon for $14.99
3. A misting fan to stay cool while you cool down
For an extra chill during your cooldown, consider a misting fan. The O2Cool Deluxe Misting Personal Fan is a lightweight personal fan that lets you spritz yourself with water for a refreshing spray. It has a 4.4-star rating with over 10,000 reviews, many of which say it’s great for cooling you down after workouts, at theme parks, or just on hot summer days. Some savvy users recommend filling the fan's reservoir with ice water for an extra cold spray.
“In Arizona, the summers are obviously brutal. Standing outside to wait for my daughter at school dismissal time is so much more pleasant with this fan,” a reviewer writes. “When it’s 115 outside, this fan is like a portable air conditioner. Fits in a standard car cup holder so you can easily transport it with you wherever you go. The battery compartment opens so easily and the fan blades are so flexible you won’t get injured if you touch them accidentally.”
Get the O2Cool Deluxe Misting Personal Fan from Amazon for $12.99
4. Frozen packs for an ice bath on-the-go
Though many fitness experts recommend ice baths for muscle recovery, newer research suggests the seriously cold temperatures of an ice bath may inhibit muscle growth. However, there's nothing wrong with using an ice pack to cool yourself down, especially if a cold shower doesn't do the trick. You can place ice packs on your wrists, on the back of your neck, and under your armpits for the same cooling effect, minus the tub.
The 3M Cold Therapy Pack is one nice option to start with. The set contains two reusable 4-inch wide, 10-inch long packs filled with gel. Reviewers like that the ice packs are semi-flexible, even when frozen, which makes them more comfortable than more rigid packs. For something larger to place on your back or stomach, try the Rester’s Choice ice pack. This 11-inch long, 14.5-inch wide pack has a 4.7-star rating with over 20,000 reviews, and has been dubbed “the best ice pack ever” by many reviewers. Other customers say it’s ultra comfortable to the touch (which can be hard to find in an ice pack) and stays cold “forever” (or at least, longer than most other ice packs).
- Get the 3M Cold Therapy Pack from Walmart for $14.99
- Get the Rester’s Choice Ice Pack from Amazon for $10.97
5. A foam roller to massage your muscles
After a hot workout, you’re going to want to take plenty of time to stretch and cool down. Foam rollers provide tons of benefits like improving muscle recovery, enhancing muscle and joint function, increasing flexibility, and preventing injury.
They can vary in density and size, but if you’re looking for a solid, no-frills foam roller, we love the LuxFit Premium High Density foam roller. It’s not too dense, not too soft, and its three-foot length makes it easy to use on a wide variety of body parts.
Get the LuxFit Premium High Density foam roller from Amazon for 25.93
6. A yoga mat to support you as you stretch
Whether you’re getting your flow on or just doing some deep stretching, you’ll need a yoga mat to cushion your movement. Lululemon’s the Reversible Mat 5mm is the best yoga mat we’ve ever tested. It has just the right amount of cushion for supporting the joints without feeling too squishy and a non-slip surface that stays stable even when you’re super sweaty. It’s also decently portable and great for taking along to a park or the backyard for an outdoor stretch session.
Get the Lululemon the Reversible Mat 5mm for $88
7. Our favorite yoga app to guide you through active recovery
You may know you need a cool down period after a sweaty workout. But when it comes time to hit the mat, you may not know what to actually do to properly stretch it out. That's where our favorite yoga app, Alo Moves, comes in. Alo Moves has a selection of stretching classes under 20 minutes (some are as short as five minutes) to guide you through your post-workout recovery. Some focus on certain muscle groups while others work the whole body, so depending on your workout, you can select a class that works for you.
You can also use Alo Moves for active recovery, which is when you perform less intense exercise to recover from high-intensity workouts. Active recovery is essential to any workout plan, and most people will need one or two recovery days in between workouts. Light movement like yoga is great for recovery days because it keeps your blood moving without putting too much strain on your recuperating muscles.
8. A cold roller ball for a cooling massage
For a way to cool down and massage your skin after exercising, try the Phyya Rehab cold massage roller ball. This roller ball is great for massaging away pain and, as an added bonus, is cool to the touch from the start. But the real magic happens if you stick it in the freezer for at least two hours to chill before your workout, which then lets you enjoy the cooling effects for up to six hours.
In addition to providing hours of icy-cold relief, reviewers say the roller is easy and comfortable to use. “This item is awesome,” one writes. “It's convenient–throw it in the freezer (it takes up very little space) and it [gets cold] rapidly. I like the fact I can use it and I don't get cold water from melting ice or condensation running across my skin. I can't imagine not having it.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.