Thermal regulatory responses to submaximal cycling following lower-body cooling in humans

Thad E Wilson, Stephen C Johnson, Jack H Petajan, Scott L Davis, Eduard Gappmaier, Maurie J Luetkemeier, Andrea T White
European Journal of Applied Physiology 2002, 88 (1): 67-75
This study compared the effects of pre-exercise cooling with control water immersions on exercise-induced thermal loads derived from steady-state submaximal exercise. Eight healthy male participants [mean (SEM) age 29 (1) years, maximal oxygen uptake 3.81 (0.74) l x min(-1), and body surface area 1.85 (0.11) m(2)] took part in experiments that included 30 min of baseline data collection [ambient temperature 21.3 (0.2 degrees C)], 30 min of immersion in water to the level of the supra-iliac crest [water temperatures of 35.1 (0.3) degrees C for thermoneutral and 17.7 (0.5) degrees C for precooled treatments], and 60 min of cycling exercise at 60% of maximal oxygen uptake. No significant differences were noted during exercise in net mechanical efficiency, metabolic rate, O(2) pulse, or ratings of perceived exertion between the two treatments. Precooling resulted in a significant negative body heat storage during immersion and allowed greater heat storage during exercise. However, net body heat storage for the entire protocol was no different between treatments. Cooling significantly lowered rectal, mean skin, and mean body temperatures as well as more than doubling the exercise time until a 0.5 degrees C rectal temperature increase was observed. The cooling trial significantly delayed onset of sweating by 19.62 min and decreased sweat rate by 255 ml x h(-1) compared to control. Thermal and sweat sensation scores were lower after the cooling treatment compared to control. These data suggest that lower-body precooling is effective at decreasing body heat storage prior to exercise and decreases reliance on heat dissipation mechanisms during exercise. Therefore, this unique, well-tolerated cooling treatment should have a broader application than other precooling treatments.

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