European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 116, Issue 9, pp 1819–1827 | Cite as

Maximal workload but not peak oxygen uptake is decreased during immersed incremental exercise at cooler temperatures

  • Tomomi Fujimoto
  • Yosuke Sasaki
  • Hitoshi Wakabayashi
  • Yasuo Sengoku
  • Shozo Tsubakimoto
  • Takeshi Nishiyasu
Original Article



This study investigated the effects of water temperature on cardiorespiratory responses and exercise performance during immersed incremental cycle exercise until exhaustion.


Ten healthy young men performed incremental cycle exercise on a water cycle ergometer at water temperatures (Tw) of 18, 26 and 34 °C. Workload was initially set at 60 W and was increased by 20 W every 2 min for the first four levels and then by 10 W every minute until the subject could no longer continue.


During submaximal exercise (60–120 W), \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2}\) was greater at Tw = 18 °C than at 26 or 34 °C. Maximal workload was lower at Tw = 18 °C than at 26 or 34 °C [Tw = 18 °C: 138 ± 16 (SD) W, Tw = 26 °C: 157 ± 16 W, Tw = 34 °C: 156 ± 18 W], whereas \(\dot{V}\)O2peak did not differ among the three temperatures [Tw = 18 °C: 3156 ± 364 (SD) ml min−1, Tw = 26 °C: 3270 ± 344 ml min−1, Tw = 34 °C: 3281 ± 268 ml min−1]. Minute ventilation (\(\dot{V}_{\text{E}}\)) and tidal volume (VT) during submaximal exercise were higher at Tw = 18 °C than at 26 or 34 °C, while respiratory frequency (fR) did not differ with respect to Tw.


Peak workload during immersed incremental cycle exercise is lower in cold water (18 °C) due to the higher \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2}\) during submaximal exercise, while the greater \(\dot{V}_{\text{E}}\) in cold water was due to a larger VT.


Cold water \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2}\) Exercise performance Ventilatory responses 



Analysis of variance


Respiratory frequency


Heart rate


Rating of perceived exertion


Esophageal temperature


Muscle temperature


Rectal temperature


Skin temperature


Water temperature(s)


Carbon dioxide elimination


Minute ventilation


Ventilatory volume


Oxygen uptake


Peak oxygen uptake


Tidal volume



We are grateful to the all of the subjects for their participation in this study. We also greatly appreciate the Dr. William Goldman for English editing and critical comments. This study was supported by grants from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomomi Fujimoto
    • 1
  • Yosuke Sasaki
    • 1
  • Hitoshi Wakabayashi
    • 2
  • Yasuo Sengoku
    • 1
  • Shozo Tsubakimoto
    • 1
  • Takeshi Nishiyasu
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Health and Sport SciencesUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Division of Human Environmental Systems, Faculty of EngineeringHokkaido UniversityHokkaidoJapan

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