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The effects of swilling an l(−)-menthol solution during exercise in the heat

Abstract

We have previously demonstrated that provision of a cold fluid (4°C) during exercise in the heat increases fluid intake and improves exercise capacity when compared to a control fluid (19°C). The present study investigated whether these positive effects could simply be replicated with a cooling agent, menthol. Nine healthy, non-acclimatised males (25 ± 7 years; \( \dot{V} \)O2max: 54 ± 5 ml kg−1 min−1) cycled to exhaustion at 65% of their peak aerobic power output at 34°C, swilling 25 ml of either an l(−)-menthol (0.01%) or orange-flavoured placebo solution every 10 min, whilst water was available ad libitum; all fluids were kept at 19°C. Eight out of nine subjects cycled for longer whilst swilling with menthol and this resulted in a 9 ± 12% improvement in endurance capacity. Rectal temperatures rose by 1.7°C during exercise with the same time course in both conditions, whilst skin temperature remained largely unchanged. Swilling with menthol resulted in hyperventilation by 8 ± 10 L min−1 and reduced central (cardiopulmonary) ratings of perceived exertion by 15 ± 14%. No differences between trials were observed for heart rate, oxygen uptake or carbon dioxide production, blood concentrations of glucose or lactate, sweat rate or volume of water ingested. We conclude that a change in the sensation of oropharyngeal temperature during exercise in the heat significantly affects endurance capacity, ventilation and the (central) sense of effort.

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Acknowledgments

The authors gratefully acknowledge the subjects for their time and effort, especially after failing equipment amounted to repeat visits.

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Correspondence to Toby Mündel.

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Mündel, T., Jones, D.A. The effects of swilling an l(−)-menthol solution during exercise in the heat. Eur J Appl Physiol 109, 59–65 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-009-1180-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-009-1180-9

Keywords

  • Endurance
  • Heat stress
  • Cooling agents
  • Perception
  • Ventilation