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Cheuvront, S N.1; Kolka, M A.1; Cadarette, B S.1; Montain, S J. FACSM1; Sawka, M N. FACSM1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2003 - Volume 35 - Issue 5 - p S132
C-15Q Free Communication/Poster Occupational and Military Physiology

1U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA

The vasomotor response to cold can decrease skin heat flux and compromise the capacity for microclimate cooling (MCC) to reduce thermoregulatory strain.

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This study examined the hypothesis that intermittent-regional microclimate cooling (IRC) would 1) reduce exercise-heat strain comparably to constant microclimate cooling (CC), and 2) improve microclimate cooling efficiency by intermittent perfusion of a small body surface area (BSA), thus increasing regional skin heat flux when compared to the constant perfusion of coolant over a larger BSA. The efficacy of four different IRC regimens was compared.

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Five heat-acclimated men performed six experimental trials of treadmill walking (225 W• m−2) in a warm climate (Tdb = 30° C, Tdp=11° C) while wearing chemical protective clothing (clo = 2.1; im = 0.32) with a water-perfused (21° C) cooling undergarment. The six trials conducted were: CC of 72% BSA, two IRC regimens cooling 36% BSA (with 2:2 or 4:4 min on: off perfusion ratios), two IRC regimens cooling 18% BSA (with 1:3 and 2:6 min on: off perfusion ratios), and a no cooling (NC) control.

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Compared to NC, CC significantly reduced Δ Tre (1.2° C) and Δ HR (60 b• min−1) (P < 0.05). The four IRC regimens all provided a similar reduction in exercise-heat strain and were 164 – 215% more efficient than CC due to improved heat flux over a smaller BSA.

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These findings indicate that the IRC approach to MCC is equally effective in reducing exercise-heat strain and may reduce MCC power requirements by providing a more efficient means of cooling when compared with CC paradigms.

©2003The American College of Sports Medicine