A century of exercise physiology: concepts that ignited the study of human thermoregulation. Part 3: Heat and cold tolerance during exercise

Sean R. Notley, Duncan Mitchell, Nigel A.S. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

In this third installment of our four-part historical series, we evaluate contributions that shaped our understanding of heat and cold stress during occupational and athletic pursuits. Our first topic concerns how we tolerate, and sometimes fail to tolerate, exercise-heat stress. By 1900, physical activity with clothing- and climate-induced evaporative impediments led to an extraordinarily high incidence of heat stroke within the military. Fortunately, deep-body temperatures > 40 °C were not always fatal. Thirty years later, water immersion and patient treatments mimicking sweat evaporation were found to be effective, with the adage of cool first, transport later being adopted. We gradually acquired an understanding of thermoeffector function during heat storage, and learned about challenges to other regulatory mechanisms. In our second topic, we explore cold tolerance and intolerance. By the 1930s, hypothermia was known to reduce cutaneous circulation, particularly at the extremities, conserving body heat. Cold-induced vasodilatation hindered heat conservation, but it was protective. Increased metabolic heat production followed, driven by shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis, even during exercise and work. Physical endurance and shivering could both be compromised by hypoglycaemia. Later, treatments for hypothermia and cold injuries were refined, and the thermal after-drop was explained. In our final topic, we critique the numerous indices developed in attempts to numerically rate hot and cold stresses. The criteria for an effective thermal stress index were established by the 1930s. However, few indices satisfied those requirements, either then or now, and the surviving indices, including the unvalidated Wet-Bulb Globe-Thermometer index, do not fully predict thermal strain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-145
Number of pages145
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Volume124
Issue number1
Early online date5 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'A century of exercise physiology: concepts that ignited the study of human thermoregulation. Part 3: Heat and cold tolerance during exercise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this