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
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2017) 16, 77 - 83

Research article
The Effect of Intermittent Head Cooling on Aerobic Performance in the Heat
Peter Walters , Nathaniel Thom, Kai Libby, Shelby Edgren, Amanda Azadian, Daniel Tannous, Elisabeth Sorenson, Brian Hunt
Author Information
Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Applied Health Science Department at Wheaton College, Wheaton College, Wheaton IL, USA

Peter Walters
✉ Department of Applied Health Science, Wheaton College, 501 College Avenue, Wheaton, IL. 60187, USA
Publish Date
Received: 20-09-2016
Accepted: 26-12-2016
Published (online): 01-03-2017

Thermoregulation is critical for athletes, particularly those for those who must perform in the heat. Most strategies aimed at reducing heat stress have cooled participants before or during activity. The objective of this study is to investigate whether seven minutes of head cooling applied between bouts of aerobic exercise in hot (35 ± 1.0 °C) and dry (14.68 ±4.29% rh) environmental conditions could positively effect participants peak power output (PP) on a maximal effort graded exercise test (GXT). Twenty-two recreational active men ages 18 to 23 (19.8 ± 1.6 yrs.) completed three performance trials over a 21 day period. During the first trial, participants were familiarized with procedures and completed a maximal effort GXT on a cycle ergometer to establish maximal baseline performances. The second and third trials, which were counterbalanced, consisted of a cooling and placebo condition. During both of these trials, participants cycled 40 minutes at 65% of their maximum VO2, in hot (35 ± 1.0 °C) and dry (17-20% rh) environmental conditions. Immediately after this initial bout of activity, participants were given seven minutes of recovery in which head cooling was applied during the cooling condition and withheld during the placebo condition. Participants then completed a maximal effort GXT. Significant differences (p < 0.001) in participants peak power output (W) were measured when cooling was applied compared to the placebo condition (304.23(W) ± 26.19(W) cooling, 291.68(W) ± 26.04(W) placebo). These results suggest that a relatively brief period of intermittent cooling may enhance subsequent aerobic performance.

Key words: Thermoregulation, thermal-loading, heat-stress, hot conditions, endurance

           Key Points
  • Thermoregulation is a critical performance variable
  • Pre-cooling and Mid-cooling methods have been shown to benefit aerobic and anaerobic performance
  • To date, intermittent head mid-cooling has not been investigated
  • This study demonstrated that seven minutes of intermittent head cooling was sufficient to positively effect aerobic performance
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