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ACSM Newsbriefs

doi: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000081
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In Brief


An important unanswered question surrounding the use of cold-water immersion (CWI) to enhance recovery from exercise is the notion of a potential placebo effect. A new study published in the November 2014 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® has investigated this issue, demonstrating that the benefits surrounding CWI after high-intensity exercise are not greater than the placebo effect.

Thirty recreationally active men performed an acute “all-out” cycling bout, followed immediately by one of three 15-minute recovery conditions: CWI (~10°C), thermo-neutral water immersion control (~35°C), or thermo-neutral water immersion placebo (~35°C). When deceived into thinking the placebo was as beneficial as CWI, participants rated their belief in the recovery condition similarly, which in turn translated into improved recovery of exercise performance. During a 48-hour postexercise period, maximal quadriceps strength and ratings of readiness for exercise, pain, and vigor were all impaired in control compared with CWI and placebo, which were similar to each other. Despite the two conditions essentially being identical, an approximately 13% improvement in leg strength (48 hours) after placebo, as compared with control, suggests that belief is a powerful moderator of the recovery of exercise performance.

Given that a warm-water placebo was shown to be as effective as cold water, this study highlights the importance of believing in recovery. Regardless of any potential physiological role, it is important to educate our athletes on the benefits of recovery and encourage belief in the practice. A strong belief in CWI, combined with any potential physiological benefits that might exist, will maximize its worth in recovery from exercise.

Want to read more? You can find the complete study at Here’s the reference: Broatch JR, Peterson A, Bishop DJ. Postexercise cold-water immersion benefits are not greater than the placebo effect. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014; 46(11):2139–47.


Whether you’re a certified health practitioner, a fitness professional working in the industry, or a student about to embark on a new career, you’ll find education, inspiration, and networking opportunities at ACSM’s Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition, March 31–April 3, 2015, in Phoenix, AZ.

Enjoy daily on-trend workouts and hands-on workshops designed to help you elevate your health and fitness knowledge and services. Attend research-backed lectures to hear the latest developments in the industry. Earn continuing education credits while learning from and connecting with respected researchers, experts, speakers, and trainers in the health and fitness field.

Customize your Summit experience to best fit your needs and skill set with these programming tracks:

  • Exercise Programming
  • Fitness Management and Communication
  • Healthy Behavioral Change and Motivation
  • Nutrition
  • Personal Training
  • Positive Health and Wellness
  • Select Populations
  • Social Media and Technology
  • Sports Medicine
  • Worksite Health Promotion
  • Interactive Workshops

Registration for the Summit, taking place at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix and Convention Center, is now open. Visit to register or to find additional information about this meeting. You won’t want to miss this!


The Lawrence A. Golding Scholarship is being offered for the tenth consecutive year. The scholarship is designed to recognize publicly undergraduate students who are in their sophomore, junior, or senior year who have made significant outstanding contributions to their communities in the areas of health, fitness, and/or education.

ACSM will provide $1,000 to each winner, and Healthy Learning™ will provide $1,000 credit to be used in the ACSM store to purchase DVDs, books, or wearables. The recipients also receive complimentary registration to ACSM’s 2015 Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition to be held March 31 through April 3, 2015, in Phoenix, AZ. Visit to apply. The deadline is November 14, 2014.

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine.