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Effects of Lightweight Outdoor Clothing on the Prevention of Hypothermia During Low-Intensity Exercise in the Cold

Burtscher, Martin MD, PhD*,†; Kofler, Philipp MSc*,‡; Gatterer, Hannes MSc*; Faulhaber, Martin PhD*,†; Philippe, Marc MSc*; Fischer, Kathrin BSc*; Walther, Rebekka BSc*; Herten, Anne MD*,‡

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2012 - Volume 22 - Issue 6 - p 505–507
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e318257c9cc
Brief Report

Objective: To study protective effects of windbreaker jacket and pants during exercise in the cold.

Design: Randomized pilot study.

Setting: Climate chamber.

Participants: Nine well-trained (V[Combining Dot Above]O2max 61.7 ± 6.6 mL/min/kg) sport students (6 male and 3 female participants).

Interventions: Subjects started walking for 1 hour in a climate chamber (0°C ambient temperature and wind speed of 10 km/h) at 70% V[Combining Dot Above]O2max wearing gloves, a T-shirt, and shorts. Then, the walking speed was reduced to 30% V[Combining Dot Above]O2max for an additional 60 minutes or until core temperature dropped below 35.5°C. Subsequently, 3 groups of 3 participants continued walking without change of clothing or obtaining additionally a cap and a windbreaker jacket or windbreaker jacket and pants.

Main Outcome Measures: Core and skin temperature, thermal comfort.

Results: The main findings of this study were that exercising at 70% V[Combining Dot Above]O2max in the cold was sufficient to prevent hypothermia and that during low-intensity exercise (30% V[Combining Dot Above]O2max), the combined use of a polyester cap, lightweight windbreaker jacket, and pants was necessary to increase a prehypothermic core temperature.

Conclusions: We strongly recommend taking a cap, windbreaker jacket, and pants for the prevention of hypothermia during exhaustive walking or running in cold weather conditions.

*Department of Sport Science, Medical Section, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

Austrian Society for Mountain and High-Altitude Medicine, Innsbruck, Austria

Centre of Technology of Ski and Alpine Sports, Innsbruck, Austria.

Corresponding Author: Martin Burtscher, MD, PhD, Department of Sport Science, Medical Section, University of Innsbruck, Fürstenweg 185, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria (

Supported in part by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG K-PROJECT Nr. 820494 “Sports Textiles.”

Presented in part at the 22nd International Congress for Mountain Rescue Physicians in Innsbruck (Austria); November 2011.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received November 8, 2011

Accepted March 28, 2012

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.