Title:
Apparatus for cooling an exerciser while using a stationary exercise device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus is disclosed that cools an individual on an exercise device by supplying a cooling fluid such as cool air or cool water to an applicator at least attached to the exercise device, and by bringing the cooling fluid into cooling contact with the individual. The fluid source can include a cooler, and/or a drier, can supply fluid from a colder and/or drier region, can be attached to the exercise device, and/or can supply multiple exercise devices. Some cooling air embodiments supply dry air or air with mist, provide a flow directed onto the individual, and/or control and/or allow the individual to control the direction, speed, flow rate, divergence, volume, and/or temperature of the air. Other embodiments cool by direct conductive cooling through a seat, backrest, handgrip, etc or indirectly by conductive cooling of air. Some embodiments can also warm the individual in a similar manner using warming fluid.



Inventors:
Goldmann, Richard (Poughkeepsie, NY, US)
Weinzimmer, Russ (Milford, NH, US)
Burum, Douglas P. (Acton, MA, US)
Application Number:
12/001003
Publication Date:
06/11/2009
Filing Date:
12/07/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25D17/06
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Primary Examiner:
ZEC, FILIP
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Russ Weinzimmer (Milford, NH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for cooling an individual while using a stationary exercise device, the apparatus comprising: a cooling fluid source capable of supplying a flow of cooling fluid to the stationary exercise device, the cooling fluid having a cooling ability that exceeds the cooling ability of the ambient air surrounding the stationary exercise device; and a cooling fluid applicator at least attached to the stationary exercise device, connected to the cooling fluid source, and capable of bringing the cooling fluid into cooling contact with the individual.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling fluid source includes a cooler that is able to cool the cooling fluid before supplying it to the stationary exercise device.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling fluid source is a cooling air source that supplies cooling air, and the cooling air source includes a dehumidifier that is able to dry the cooling air before supplying it to the stationary exercise device.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling fluid source is a cooling air source, and the cooling air source includes a misting device that is able to add water droplets to the cooling air before supplying the cooling air to the stationary exercise device.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling fluid applicator is part of the stationary exercise device.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling fluid source is a source of cooling air, and wherein the cooling fluid applicator is a cooling air blower that is able to direct a flow of cooling air onto the individual.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the source of cooling air supplies cooling air that is at least one of cooler and drier than the ambient air surrounding the stationary exercise device.

8. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the source of cooling air provides air to the stationary exercise device from a region where the ambient air is at least one of cooler and drier than the ambient air surrounding the stationary exercise device.

9. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the cooling air blower is able to direct a flow of cooling air toward the individual from at least one of the front of the individual, the back of the individual, the side of the individual, above the individual, and below the individual.

10. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the apparatus further comprises a controller capable of controlling at least one aspect of the cooling air from the cooling air blower, the aspects including: direction of flow; speed of flow; rate of divergence; volume of flow; temperature and quantity of cooling mist.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the controller enables the individual to control at least one aspect of the cooling air from the cooling air blower.

12. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the controller includes at least one of a fan, an electrostatic air mover, a directable vent, a louvered vent, and other air movement and directing devices.

13. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling fluid source is at least attached to the stationary exercise device.

14. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling fluid source is not attached to the stationary exercise device and is connected to the cooling fluid applicator at least partly by a cooling fluid conduit.

15. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling fluid source is able to supply cooling fluid to a plurality of stationary exercise devices.

16. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling fluid applicator is able to bring the cooling fluid into thermal contact with the individual by conduction.

17. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the conduction is through at least one of a seat on which the individual sits, a backrest against which the individual places his back, hand grips that are grasped by the individual, and other surfaces that come into conductive thermal contact with the individual.

18. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling fluid applicator is able to bring the cooling fluid into thermal contact with the individual by cooling a surface with the fluid, cooling air by bringing it into contact with the surface, and then bringing the cooled air into thermal contact with the individual.

19. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the apparatus is also able to warm an individual while using a stationary exercise device, the apparatus further comprising a warming fluid source capable of supplying warming fluid to the stationary exercise device and a warming fluid applicator at least attached to the stationary exercise device, connected to the warming fluid source, and capable of bringing the warming fluid into warming contact with the individual.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention generally relates to stationary exercise devices, and more specifically to apparatus for cooling an individual while using an stationary exercise device.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Exercise is generally known to have many benefits for individuals of all ages. These benefits include improved cardiovascular health, reduced blood pressure, prevention of bone and muscle loss, maintenance of a healthy weight, improved psychological heath, and many others. Exercise is also used a means for monitoring the health of individuals through so-called “stress” tests. However, exercise is generally accompanied by a certain degree of discomfort, including overheating, sweating, fatigue, etc, and this leads to a significant reduction in the amount of exercise undertaken by many individuals, thereby reducing the health benefits derived from exercise and the diagnostic accuracy of stress tests.

Because of weather variability, convenience, and time constraints, exercise often takes place indoors using a stationary exercise machine such as a stepper, stationary bicycle, elliptical, treadmill, stress test machine, etc. Attempts are sometimes made to increase the comfort of exercising individuals in these environments by optimizing the surrounding temperature, but this can be largely unsatisfactory because exercisers generally require different degrees of cooling depending on individual physiology and on how long and how vigorously they have been exercising. If the surrounding air is warm enough to be comfortable for individuals just beginning an exercise session, it will be too warm for individuals well into a vigorous session. And if the surrounding air is cool enough to be comfortable for an individual who has been exercising vigorously for a significant amount of time, it will be too cold for individuals just beginning to exercise.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An apparatus is disclosed for cooling an individual while using a stationary exercise device. The apparatus includes a cooling fluid source capable of supplying a flow of cooling fluid with a cooling ability that exceeds the cooling ability of the ambient air. The cooling fluid is supplied by the cooling fluid source to the stationary exercise device and a cooling fluid applicator that is connected to the cooling fluid source and is at least attached to the stationary exercise device (in preferred embodiments part of the device), brings the cooling fluid into thermal contact with the individual. In preferred embodiments, the cooling fluid is either cooling air or another cooling fluid such as cool water. In some preferred embodiments, the cooling fluid source includes a cooler that is able to cool a fluid before supplying it to the stationary exercise device.

In preferred embodiments where the cooling fluid is cooling air, the cooling air source includes a dehumidifier that is able to dry the cooling air before supplying it to the stationary exercise device, and/or a misting device that is able to add water droplets to the cooling air before supplying the cooling air to the stationary exercise device.

In further preferred embodiments where the cooling fluid is cooling air, the cooling fluid applicator is a cooling air blower that is able to direct a flow of cooling air onto the individual and/or supplies cooling air that is cooler and/or drier than the ambient air surrounding the exercise device. In some of these embodiments the cooling air blower supplies air from another region, such as from outdoors or from another room, where the ambient air is significantly cooler and/or drier than the ambient air surrounding the exercise device.

In some preferred embodiments where the cooling fluid is cooling air, the cooling air applicator is able to direct a flow of cooling air toward an individual using the exercise machine, and in some of these embodiments the flow of cooling air comes from the front, back, side, above, and/or below the individual. In still other of these embodiments, the apparatus includes a controller that is able to control at least one aspect of the cooling air, including the direction of flow, speed of flow, rate of flow, divergence of the flow, volume of the flow, the temperature of the cooling air, and/or the quantity of cooling mist carried by the flow, and in some of these embodiments the controller enables the individual to control some or all of these aspects. In some of these embodiments, the controller includes a fan, an electrostatic air mover, a directable vent, a louvered vent, and/or other air movement and directing devices.

In preferred embodiments, the cooling fluid source is at least attached to the stationary exercise device, while in other embodiments it is not attached to the stationary exercise device and is connected to the cooling fluid applicator at least partly by a cooling fluid conduit. In some preferred embodiments, the cooling fluid source can supply cooling fluid to a plurality of stationary exercise devices.

In preferred embodiments, the cooling fluid applicator can bring the cooling fluid into thermal contact with the individual by conduction, which in some preferred embodiments is through a seat, a backrest, a hand grip, and/or other surfaces that come into thermal contact with the individual. In other embodiments, the cooling fluid cools a surface, air is brought into thermal contact with the surface, thereby cooling the air, and then the cooled air is brought into thermal contact with the individual.

In some preferred embodiments, the apparatus is able to warm the individual as well as cool the individual. In these embodiments, the apparatus also includes a warm fluid source capable of supplying warm fluid to the stationary exercise device and a warm fluid applicator that is at least attached to the stationary exercise device and is capable of bringing the warm fluid into thermal contact with the individual.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a preferred embodiment that includes an air cooler attached to an stationary exercise device and a cooling air distributing fan part of the stationary exercise device;

FIG. 2A illustrates a preferred embodiment that includes an air cooler separate from an stationary exercise device and a cooling air distributing fan attached to the stationary exercise device;

FIG. 2B illustrates a preferred embodiment that includes an air cooler separate from an stationary exercise device and a cooling air distributing fan part of the stationary exercise device;

FIG. 2C illustrates a preferred embodiment that includes an air cooler separate from an stationary exercise device, a cooling air distributing system that provides cooled air from below an exercising individual, and a control panel that allows an exercising individual to control the flow rate and temperature of the cooling air;

FIG. 3 illustrates a preferred embodiment that includes a dry, cooling air source located outside of an exercise room that is able to supply cooling air to a plurality of stationary exercise devices;

FIG. 4A is a functional diagram illustrating flow of cooling air through a cooling air distributing vent with adjustable air directing louvers;

FIG. 4B is a functional diagram illustrating cooling of a surface by a flow of cool water and cooling of air flowing past the surface;

FIG. 4C is a functional diagram illustrating injection of cooling mist into a flow of cooling air through the cooling air distributing vent of FIG. 4A;

FIG. 5A illustrates a preferred embodiment in which an exercising individual is cooled by a directed flow of cooling air from behind;

FIG. 5B illustrates a preferred embodiment in which an exercising individual is cooled by conduction through contact with a seat, a backrest, and handles supplied with cooling fluid; and

FIG. 5C is a functional diagram illustrating cooling of the handles by cooling fluid in the embodiment of FIG. 5B.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to FIG. 1, in a preferred embodiment the apparatus includes a cooling fluid source 100, in this case an air cooler 100, that is attached to an stationary exercise device 102 and supplies air that is cooler than the ambient air surrounding the stationary exercise device 102 to a fan 104 that is part of the stationary exercise device 102. The fan 104 serves as the applicator of the cooling air by directing a flow of cooling air toward the front of an individual (not shown) using the device. Warm air resulting from the cooling process is exhausted from the air cooler 100 through an air duct 106.

In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 2A, the apparatus includes an air cooler 200 that is not attached to the stationary exercise device 102. The air cooler 200 supplies cooling air thorough a hose 202 to a fan 104 that is attached to the stationary exercise device 102. As in FIG. 1, the fan 104 serves as the applicator of the cooling air by directing a flow of cooling air toward the front of an individual (not shown) using the device. FIG. 2B illustrates an embodiment similar to the embodiment of FIG. 2A, except that the fan 104 is part of the stationary exercise device 102.

FIG. 2C illustrates a preferred embodiment that includes an air cooler 200 that is not attached to the stationary exercise device 102. The air cooler 200 supplies cooling air thorough a hose 202 and through a conduit in the body of the stationary exercise device 102 to a series of vents 204 located along the base of the stationary exercise device 102, which direct cooling air upward from below toward an exercising individual (not shown) using the stationary exercise device 102. A control panel 206 on the front of the stationary exercise device 102 allows an exercising individual (not shown) to control the flow rate and temperature of the cooling air.

The preferred embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3 is similar to the embodiment of FIG. 2B, except that the cooling air source is located outside of the room and supplies cooling air that is also dry air. The cool, dry air is supplied through a connection 300 in the wall of the room to a manifold 302, and from the manifold to a plurality of stationary exercise devices 304.

FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B are functional diagrams that illustrate cooling fluid applicators in two respective preferred embodiments. In FIG. 4A, cooling air 400 flows through a duct 402, and exits from a vent 404 through a set of air directing louvers 406. The direction of the louvers 406 can be controlled by rotating a wheel 408 located below the louvers. In FIG. 4B, cool water flows through a pipe 410 to a heat exchange device 412 with a large surface area. Air 414 is blown by a fan 416 past the heat exchange device 412, thereby conductively cooling the air 418, which then impacts an exercising individual (not shown).

FIG. 4C is a functional diagram that illustrates the injection of a cooling mist 420 into the cooling air 400 of FIG. 4A. Water travels through a hose 422 to a spray nozzle 424, which transforms the water into mist droplets 420. The droplets enter a mixing chamber 426 where they mix with the flow of cooling air 400 and are carried through the vent 404 by the cooling air 400.

In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 5A, a cooling fluid source 500 supplies cool liquid through a set of hoses 502 to a heat exchange device and fan 504 similar to the device and fan shown in FIG. 4B. The heat exchange device and fan 504 is attached to the back of an stationary exercise device 506 on which an individual 508 is exercising in a seated position, and directs a flow of cooled air 510 onto the exercising individual 508 from behind. In this embodiment, the source of cooling fluid 500 is a closed loop liquid chiller and circulator with a self contained cooling liquid reservoir that is accessible through a hatch 512 on the top. Typically, a mixture of water and anti-freeze with anti-corrosion properties is used as the cooling liquid.

The preferred embodiment of FIG. 5B uses a liquid chiller 500 similar to the chiller of FIG. 5A, but the chilled liquid is supplied to a conductive cooling applicator that is part of the handles 514, the seat 516, and the backrest 518 of the stationary exercise device 506. The individual 508 using the stationary exercise device 506 is cooled by direct conductive thermal contact with the cooled handles 514, seat 516 and backrest 518.

FIG. 5C is a functional diagram that illustrates the cooling of the handles in the preferred embodiment of FIG. 5B by the chilled liquid. The liquid flows into and up one of the supporting arms 518 that supports the hand grips, through the two hand grips 514, which in this embodiment are metal and provide good thermal contact with the chilled liquid, and then down the other supporting arm 520. The interiors of the supporting arms 518, 520 and the cross brace 522 between the handles are thermally insulated so as to avoid warming of the chilled liquid as it flows up to and down from the handles, and to avoid water condensation on the supporting arms 518, 520 and the cross brace 522.

Other modifications and implementations will occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and the scope of the invention as claimed. Accordingly, the above description is not intended to limit the invention except as indicated in the following claims.