Why drinking a hot beverage on a hot day will cool you off on the course

Danielle Kang uses an umbrella to find relief from the heat at Kasumigaseki.

Danielle Kang uses an umbrella to hide from the blazing heat at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

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It’s capital H-O-T hot in Kawagoe, Japan with the heat index reaching upwards of 100 degrees each day. 

It’s so hot that Lexi Thompson’s caddie had to leave her bag on the 15th hole during her first round and Yuka Saso’s caddie was rushed to the hospital after succumbing to heat exhaustion during a practice round. 

With the temperatures soaring, players have been sharing their secrets to staying cool in the heat. While most of the women have suggested drinking water, replenishing electrolytes and staying in the shade as much as possible, Danielle Kang had a completely different response to the question of staying cool in extreme heat.

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“I actually keep warm during the heat and I drink hot tee on the golf course,” Kang told reporters. “I don’t like contrasting hot and cold, then I feel like I’m hotter. I feel more of the heat. So I try and feel a bit neutralizing internal and external and just breathe through it.”

Kang’s unique method of staying cool piqued my interest, especially because I’ve heard of this before, but I’ve never heard a professional athlete say they actually do it. So, I decided to look into it. 

Lo and behold, science backs Kang’s method up.

Well, sort of. 

Does drinking a hot beverage on a hot day help you feel cooler?

Yes…and no. 

In a 2012 study, Ollie Jay, a researcher at the University of Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics at the time, found that consuming hot beverages in hot weather during exercise could actually help lower your body’s overall heat storage.

The way this works is pretty simple: When you drink something warm, receptors on your tongue send signals to your brain that you’re ingesting something hot. Your brain then takes on the responsibility of cooling you off by telling your body to sweat. It’s similar to why experts say taking a lukewarm shower on a hot day can actually help cool you down faster.

However, when it comes to drinking the hot beverage: In order for this response to actually cool you off, your sweat has to be able to completely evaporate. This is because when you sweat, your body uses the excess heat building up internally to help it evaporate. If it’s humid out, that sweat will simply sit on your skin and your body won’t be able to expel the excess heat as effectively.

If you’re in a hot, humid environment like say, Kawagoe, Japan, consuming a hot beverage will definitely make you sweat more, but that moisture won’t evaporate, leaving you hot and sweaty rather than providing relief from the heat.

What about cold beverages? 

Jay also found that drinking cold beverages had a similar, but opposite effect on the body whereby participants in his study who drank cold beverages actually sweat less because the drinks cooled their internal temperatures and their bodies held onto more heat as w result.

When should you drink hot vs. cold beverages on the golf course? 

When it comes to playing golf, there are a lot of factors to consider when prepping for your round. While Danielle Kang’s preference for drinking hot beverages works, you need the right conditions to make sure your sweat can evaporate completely. 

This means you really should be checking the weather before you play a round of golf to determine if grabbing a hot tea or coffee is worth it. If you’re playing in high temps, but low humidity, grab a hot drink.

In hot, humid climates though, you’re better off sticking with ice water and other cold beverages that will help you cool off internally.

Since the goal of any round is to play your best and have fun, do what will keep you cool on the course and under pressure standing over a birdie putt.

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