Thermal insulation and body temperature wearing a thermal swimsuit during water immersion

Hitoshi Wakabayashi, Atsuko Hanai, Shintaro Yokoyama, Takeo Nomura
Journal of Physiological Anthropology 2006, 25 (5): 331-8
This study evaluated the effects of a thermal swimsuit on body temperatures, thermoregulatory responses and thermal insulation during 60 min water immersion at rest. Ten healthy male subjects wearing either thermal swimsuits or normal swimsuits were immersed in water (26 degrees C or 29 degrees C). Esophageal temperature, skin temperatures and oxygen consumption were measured during the experiments. Metabolic heat production was calculated from oxygen consumption. Heat loss from skin to the water was calculated from the metabolic heat production and the change in mean body temperature during water immersion. Total insulation and tissue insulation were estimated by dividing the temperature difference between the esophagus and the water or the esophagus and the skin with heat loss from the skin. Esophageal temperature with a thermal swimsuit was higher than that with a normal swimsuit at the end of immersion in both water temperature conditions (p<0.05). Oxygen consumption, metabolic heat production and heat loss from the skin were less with the thermal swimsuit than with a normal swimsuit in both water temperatures (p<0.05). Total insulation with the thermal swimsuit was higher than that with a normal swimsuit due to insulation of the suit at both water temperatures (p<0.05). Tissue insulation was similar in all four conditions, but significantly higher with the thermal swimsuit in both water temperature conditions (p<0.05), perhaps due to of the attenuation of shivering during immersion with a thermal swimsuit. A thermal swimsuit can increase total insulation and reduce heat loss from the skin. Therefore, subjects with thermal swimsuits can maintain higher body temperatures than with a normal swimsuit and reduce shivering thermo-genesis.

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