Physical work capacity (PWC180) was assessed with different levels of hypohydration in 25 heat-acclimatized male volunteers in hot dry (45°C DB, 30% RH) and hot humid (39°C DB, 60% RH) conditions equated to a heat stress level of 34°C on the WBGT scale. Heat acclimatization was carried out by exposing the subjects for 8 consecutive days in a climatic chamber with moderate work for two 50 min work cycles and 10 min intervening rest pauses. Acclimatization resulted in significant decreases in heart rate (27 bpm), oral temperature (0.8°C), mean skin temperature (1.2°C) and a significant increase in sweating rate (120 g h−1 m−2). Day-to-day variations in body hypohydration levels during heat acclimatization were not significantly different, although water intake was found to increase significantly from day 3 onwards when the subjects were in ad lib water intake state. The heat acclimatized subjects were then hypohydrated to varying degrees, viz. 1%, 2% and 3% body weight deficit, with moderate work in heat in the climatic chamber and after successful recovery from the effects of thermal stress and exercise; their physical work capacity was assessed individually. Physical work capacity was found to decrease significantly with hypohydration as compared to controls. The decrease was of the order of 9%, 11% and 22% in the hot dry condition and 6%, 8% and 20% in the hot humid condition with hypohydration levels of 1%, 2% and 3% respectively. The decrease was more pronounced during 3% hypohydration level under both heat stress conditions. This decrease was in spite of significant increases in maximal ventilation. However, the PWC180 under the two heat stress conditions, when compared, did not reveal any significant difference. It was concluded that the heat stress vehicle did not adversely affect the physical work capacity. On the other hand, the decreases in physical work capacity were found to be closely related to the primary hypohydration level in heat-acclimatized tropical subjects.
Heat acclimatizationPhysical work capacityPrimary dehydrationTemperature regulationHot dry and hot humid