Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2007) 06, 385 - 392

Review article
Pre-Pubertal Children and Exercise in Hot and Humid Environments: A Brief Review
Wade H. Sinclair , Melissa J. Crowe, Warwick L. Spinks, Anthony S. Leicht
Author Information
Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

Wade H. Sinclair
✉ Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, James Cook University Townsville, Queensland, Australia 4811.
Email: Wade.Sinclair@jcu.edu.au
Publish Date
Received: 05-12-2006
Accepted: 29-05-2007
Published (online): 01-12-2007
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ABSTRACT

The ability of pre-pubertal children to regulate their body temperature under thermoneutral environments is similar to that of an adult albeit via differing routes. However, this ability is challenged when exposed to extreme environments. Thermoregulatory responses of pre-pubertal children differ from adults via adaptations that occur during growth and maturation and disadvantage children when exercising in hot and humid environments. When ambient temperatures exceed that of the skin, an influx of thermal energy from the environment increases thermal stress. When coupled with exercise, the increased thermal stress results in reduced physical performance and an increased risk of developing heat-related illness. Evidence suggesting the severity of heat-related illness is greater in pre-pubertal children than adults is inconclusive because age-related differences in thermoregulatory responses are attributed to either morphologic or functional changes. Additionally, the majority of research on pre-pubertal children exercising in the heat has been maturational or comparative studies with adults conducted in the near absence of convective cooling, complicating extrapolation to field-based environments. However, current consensus is that pre-pubertal children are disadvantaged when exercising in extreme temperatures and that care should be taken in preparing for and conducting sporting activities in hot and humid environments for pre-pubertal children.

Key words: Child, exercise, heat, body temperature regulation, heat stress disorders


           Key Points
  • Pre-pubertal children’s ability to thermoregulate when exposed to hot and humid environments is deficient compared to adults.
  • Research into the severity of heat-related illness in pre-pubertal children is inconclusive.
  • Discretion should be used in applying findings from indoor studies to outdoor activities due to the influence of the velocity of circulating air on thermoregulation.
 
 
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