Impairment of exercise performance following cold water immersion is not attenuated after 7 days of cold acclimation
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It is well-documented that severe cold stress impairs exercise performance. Repeated immersion in cold water induces an insulative type of cold acclimation, wherein enhanced vasoconstriction leads to greater body heat retention, which may attenuate cold-induced exercise impairments. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to investigate changes in exercise performance during a 7-day insulative type of cold acclimation.
Twelve healthy participants consisting of eight males and four females (mean ± SD age: 25.6 ± 5.2 years, height: 174.0 ± 8.9 cm, weight: 75.6 ± 13.1 kg) performed a 20 min self-paced cycling test in 23 °C, 40% humidity without prior cold exposure. Twenty-four hours later they began a 7-day cold acclimation protocol (daily 90 min immersion in 10 °C water). On days one, four, and seven of cold acclimation, participants completed the same cycling test. Measurements of work completed, core and skin temperatures, heart rate, skin blood flow, perceived exertion, and thermal sensation were measured during each cycling test.
Successful insulative cold acclimation was observed. Work produced during the baseline cycling test (220 ± 70 kJ) was greater (p < 0.001) than all three tests that were performed following immersions (195 ± 58, 197 ± 60, and 194 ± 62 kJ) despite similar ratings of perceived exertion during each test, suggesting that cold exposure impaired cycling performance. This impairment, however, was not attenuated over the cold acclimation period.
Results suggest that insulative cold acclimation does not attenuate impairments in exercise performance that were observed following acute cold water immersion.
KeywordsCold Exercise Performance Acclimation
Analysis of variance
Forearm skin blood flow
Forearm skin temperature
Temporal skin blood flow
Temporal skin temperature
Douglas M. Jones is the lead author and has contributed to the research design, data collection, data analysis, and writing of this manuscript. Bart Roelands, Stephen Bailey, Michael Buono, and Romain Meeusen have contributed to the research design, data analysis, and review and edit process for this manuscript.
This study was funded by the Department of Defense.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Statement of human rights
This study was approved by the San Diego State University Institutional Review Board (protocol # 1951098).
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