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Influence of Body Mass Loss on Changes in Heart Rate During Exercise in the Heat: A Systematic Review

Adams, William M.; Ferraro, Elizabeth M.; Huggins, Robert A.; Casa, Douglas J.

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 8 - p 2380–2389
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000501
Brief Review

Adams, WM, Ferraro, EM, Huggins, RA, and Casa, DJ. Influence of body mass loss on changes in heart rate during exercise in the heat: A systematic review. J Strength Cond Res 28(8): 2380–2389, 2014—The purpose of this review was to compare the changes in heart rate (HR) for every 1% change in body mass loss (ΔBML) in individuals while exercising in the heat. PubMed, SPORTDiscus, ERIC, CINAHL, and Scopus were searched from the earliest entry to February 2013 using the search terms dehydration, heart rate, and exercise in various combinations. Original research articles that met the following criteria were included: (a) valid measure of HR, (b) exercise in the heat (>26.5° C [79.7 °F]), (c) the level of dehydration reached at least 2%, (d) a between-group comparison (a euhydrated group or a graded dehydration protocol) was evident, and (e) for rehydration protocols, only oral rehydration was considered for inclusion. Twenty articles were included in the final analysis. Mean values and SDs for HR and percentage of body mass loss immediately after exercise were used for this review. The mean change in HR for every 1% ΔBML was 3 b·min−1. In trials where subjects arrived euhydrated and hypohydrated, the mean change in HR for every 1% ΔBML was 3 and 3 b·min—1, respectively. Fixed intensity and variable intensity trials exhibited a mean HR change of 4 and 1 b·min−1, respectively. Exercising in the heat while hypohydrated (≥2%) resulted in an increased HR after exercise. This increase in HR for every 1% ΔBML exacerbates cardiovascular strain in exercising individuals, thus causing decrements in performance. It should be encouraged that individuals should maintain an adequate level of hydration to maximize performance, especially in the heat.

Korey Stringer Institute, Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

Address correspondence to William M. Adams,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.