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Maximum Skin Wettedness after Aerobic Training with and without Heat Acclimation


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2018 - Volume 50 - Issue 2 - p 299–307
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001439

Purpose To quantify how maximum skin wettedness (ωmax); that is, the determinant of the boundary between compensable and uncompensable heat stress, is altered by aerobic training in previously unfit individuals and further augmented by heat acclimation.

Methods Eight untrained individuals completed an 8-wk aerobic training program immediately followed by 8 d of hot/humid (38°C, 65%RH) heat acclimation. Participants completed a humidity ramp protocol pretraining (PRE-TRN), posttraining (POST-TRN), and after heat acclimation (POST-HA), involving treadmill marching at a heat production of 450 W for 105 min in 37.5°C, 2.0 kPa (35%RH). After attaining a steady-state esophageal temperature (T es), humidity increased 0.04 kPa·min−1. An upward inflection in T es indicated the upper limit of physiological compensability (P crit), which was then used to quantify ωmax. Local sweat rate, activated sweat gland density, and sweat gland output on the back and arm were simultaneously measured throughout.

Results Peak aerobic capacity increased POST-TRN by approximately 14% (PRE-TRN: 45.8 ± 11.8 mL·kg−1·min−1; POST-TRN: 52.0 ± 11.1 mL·kg−1·min−1, P < 0.001). ωmax values became progressively greater from PRE-TRN (0.72 ± 0.06) to POST-TRN (0.84 ± 0.08; P = 0.02), to POST-HA (0.95 ± 0.05; P = 0.03). These shifts in ωmax were facilitated by a progressively greater local sweat rate and activated sweat gland density from PRE-TRN (0.84 ± 0.21 mg·cm−2·min−1; 67 ± 20 glands per square centimeter) to POST-TRN (0.96 ± 0.21 mg·cm−2·min−1, P = 0.03; 86 ± 27 glands per square centimeter; P = 0.009), to POST-HA (1.15 ± 0.21 mg·cm−2·min−1; P < 0.001; 98 ± 35 glands per square centimeter; P < 0.001). No differences in sweat gland output were observed.

Conclusions A greater ωmax occurred after 8 wk of aerobic training, but ωmax was further augmented with heat acclimation, indicating only a partially increased heat loss capacity with training. These ωmax values may assist future predictions of heat stress risk in untrained/trained unacclimated individuals and trained heat-acclimated individuals.

1School of Human Kinetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, CANADA; 2Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA; 3Centre for Heart, Lung and Vascular Health, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna, British Columbia, CANADA; and 4Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA

Address for correspondence: Ollie Jay, Ph.D., Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, New South Wales 2141, Australia; E-mail:

Submitted for publication July 2017.

Accepted for publication September 2017.

© 2018 American College of Sports Medicine