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The effect of repeated mild cold water immersions on the adaptation of the vasomotor responses

Abstract

There are several types of cold adaptation based on the alteration of thermoregulatory response. It has been thought that the temperature of repeated cold exposures during the adaptation period is one of the factors affecting the type of cold adaptation developed. This study tested the hypothesis that repeated mild cold immersions would induce an insulative cold adaptation but would not alter the metabolic response. Seven healthy male participants were immersed to their xiphoid process level repeatedly in 26°C water for 60 min, 3 days every week, for 4 weeks. During the first and last exposure of this cold acclimation period, the participants underwent body immersion tests measuring their thermoregulatory responses to cold. Separately, they conducted finger immersion into 5°C water for 30 min to assess their cold-induced vasodilation (CIVD) response before and after cold acclimation. During the immersion to xiphoid process, participants showed significantly lower mean skin temperature and skin blood flow in the forearm post-acclimation, while no adaptation was observed in the metabolic response. Additionally, blunted CIVD responses were observed after cold acclimation. From these results, it was considered that the participants showed an insulative-type of cold acclimation after the repeated mild cold immersions. The major finding of this study was the acceptance of the hypothesis that repeated mild cold immersion was sufficient to induce insulative cold adaptation but did not alter the metabolic response. It is suggested that the adaptation in the thermoregulatory response is specific to the response which is repeatedly stimulated during the adaptation process.

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Acknowledgements

Authors wish to thank all participants in this study. We would also like to express our thanks to Mr M Fujiwara and Dr K Ishibashi for their technical advice and mechanical support. H. Wakabayashi and J.Y. Lee are the recipients of a research fellowship for young scientists from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. This study was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (No. 21·3584). The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Hitoshi Wakabayashi.

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Wakabayashi, H., Wijayanto, T., Kuroki, H. et al. The effect of repeated mild cold water immersions on the adaptation of the vasomotor responses. Int J Biometeorol 56, 631–637 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-011-0462-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-011-0462-1

Keywords

  • Cold acclimation
  • Insulative cold adaptation
  • Cold-induced vasodilation
  • Skin blood flow