Skin blood flow during incremental exercise in a thermoneutral and a hot dry environment

  • Juhani Smolander
  • Pertti Kolari
  • Olli Korhonen
  • Raija Ilmarinen


Eight physically fit men performed two incremental bicycle ergometer tests, one in an ambient temperature of 25° C and the other at 40° C. Oesophageal temperature (Tes) increased continuously throughout the tests up to 38.0 and 38.3° C, respectively. In both enviroments, forearm blood flow (plethysmography) was linearly related to Tes above the Tes threshold for vasodilation, but at the heaviest work loads this relationship was clearly attenuated and therefore indicated skin vasoconstriction, which tended to be more pronounced at 25° C. During recovery at 25° C, in some subjects the forearm blood flow increased above the levels observed at the end of the graded exercise in spite of a decreasing Tes. Skin blood flow, measured by laser Doppler flow meter at the shoulder, was quantitatively different but, on average, seemed to reveal the same response pattern as the forearm blood flow. In spite of the higher level of skin blood flow in the heat, blood lactate accumulation did not differ between the two environments. The present results suggest that there is competition between skin vasoconstriction and vasodilation at heavy work rates, the former having precedence in a thermoneutral environment to increase muscle perfusion. During short-term graded exercise in a hot environment, skin vasoconstriction with other circulatory adjustments seems to be able to maintain adequate muscle perfusion at heavy work levels, but probably not during maximum exercise.

Key words

Plethysmographic skin blood flow Laser Doppler flowmetry Incremental exercise Blood lactate Heat stress 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juhani Smolander
    • 1
  • Pertti Kolari
    • 1
  • Olli Korhonen
    • 1
  • Raija Ilmarinen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Occupational HealthVantaaFinland

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