Secondary Logo

Environmental Physiology in MSSE®


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2003 - Volume 35 - Issue 12 - p 1957
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000099510.09845.36

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

To commemorate a year of celebration for its 50th Annual Meeting in May 2003 and its 50th anniversary as an organization in 2004, the American College of Sports Medicine and Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®are pleased to publish personal historical perspectives from leading sports medicine and exercise science professionals. This article is one in a series of articles based on the impact ACSM and MSSE®have had on the fields and categories covered in this ACSM’s flagship journal.

Since 1969, MSSE® has been a steady source of research on how environment affects physiological responses and exercise performance. Readers might guess that heat stress is the most frequently reported environmental topic, and a survey of contents confirms that, with over 90 papers published concerning heat, averaging 1 every other issue, and over 40 more papers concerning body fluid regulation and dehydration but not focused on heat. Even so, the first paper appearing in MSSE® regarding environment (1) concerned not heat but high-altitude effects on elite runners. Interestingly, an ACSM past-president who must enjoy recent reports on “live high, train low,” coauthored this paper. Through 1999, high-altitude papers appeared about every seventh issue, and more frequently since. Only 30 articles concerning cold have been published. In contrast, interest in gravity is growing, with about 27 papers since 1990, but only 6 before then.

Many prominent environmental physiologists have published in MSSE®. D. B. Dill, director of the Harvard Fatigue Lab, senior-authored two research articles in MSSE®, one on heat stress and another on high-altitude. Dr. Dill, a former ACSM president and two-time Honor Awardee, influenced many subsequent environmental physiologists who published in MSSE®. Steven Horvath, founder of the Institute of Environmental Stress was a Harvard Fatigue Lab alumnus who coauthored papers in MSSE® on heat and exercise with Barbara Drinkwater, another ACSM past-president. Among Dr. Horvath’s trainees were Ethan Nadel, who coauthored MSSE® papers on thermoregulation during exercise-heat stress, and Peter Raven, editor-in-chief of MSSE® for over a decade and another ACSM past-president. Former ACSM president and editor-in-chief, E. R. Buskirk, authored articles in MSSE® about exercise at high altitude. Yet another ACSM past-president and frequent contributor on heat stress was Carl Gisolfi.

Certain research teams are noticeably frequent contributors. In the past 33 yr, military research laboratories have contributed considerably to MSSE® concerning heat, cold, and high-altitude effects with nearly 30 papers from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and 9 more from the Center de Recherches du Service de Sante des Armees in France, the Institute of Military Physiology at the Heller Institute in Israel, and the Defense and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine in Canada, collectively. Academic labs contributing frequently to MSSE® on environmental physiology include the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at University of Iowa, the Human Performance Laboratories at Ball State and University of Connecticut, the Noll Physiological Research Center at Penn State, and the John B. Pierce Foundation Laboratory at Yale. Frequent contributions to MSSE® on gravity effects have come from NASA’s Johnson Space Center and Ames Research Center and from the Universities of Arizona, California at Irving, and California at Los Angeles. However, less than half of MSSE®’s content on environmental topics comes from the research organizations mentioned, suggesting that interest in how environment influences physically active people is broad.

Citing particular papers as distinguished may reflect preference more than merit. Nevertheless, one series of papers published in MSSE® appears to have significance for environmental physiology as a discipline. The Iowa Wrestling study reports by Zambraski, Tipton, and colleagues, appearing first in 1974 (2) with follow-on reports, describe well-executed scientific investigations of weight-loss practices used by wrestlers. The papers documented physiological and performance effects of heat and dehydration on athletes, had practical impact, and continue stimulating research. That type of paper is our journal’s strength. I look forward to MSSE®’s continuing as a source of new research on this and other “hot” topics in environmental physiology.

Back to Top | Article Outline


1. Daniels, J., and N. Oldridge. The effects of alternate exposure to altitude and sea level on world-class middle-distance runners. Med. Sci. Sports 2: 107–112, 1970.
2. Zambraski, E. J., C. M. Tipton, H. R. Jordon, W. K. Palmer, and T. K. Tcheng. Iowa wrestling study: urinary profiles of state finalists prior to competition. Med. Sci. Sports 6: 129–132, 1974.
©2003The American College of Sports Medicine