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Estimation of Heat Production Rate using Thermal Data During Exercise in Indoor Environments: A Study of Heat Storage Rate in Male Athletes

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The increasing preference for indoor exercise spaces highlights the relationship between indoor thermal environments and physiological responses, particularly concerning thermal comfort during physical activity. Determining the metabolic heat production rate during exercise is essential for optimizing the thermal comfort, well-being, and performance of individuals engaged in physical activities. This value can be determined during the activity using several methods, including direct calorimetry measurement, indirect calorimetry that uses analysis of respiratory gases, or approximations using collected data such as speed, body mass, and heart rate. The study aimed to calculate the metabolic heat production rate by infrared thermal evaluation (ITE) based on the body’s thermal balance approach and compare it with the values determined by indirect calorimetry (IC). Fourteen participants volunteered for the study, using a cycling ergometer in a controlled climatic chamber. After the familiarization sessions, maximal O2 intake levels (VO2max) were determined through maximal graded exercise tests. Subsequently, constant work rate exercise tests were performed at 60% of VO2max for 20 min. The metabolic heat production rates were calculated by IC and ITE for each athlete individually. Respiratory gases were used to determine IC, while body skin and core temperatures, along with physical environmental data, were applied to calculate ITE using the human body thermal balance approximation of ASHRAE. According to the results, heat storage rates were misleading among the body’s heat transfer modes, particularly during the first 8 min of the exercise. ITE showed a moderate level of correlation with IC (r: 0.03–0.86) with a higher level of dispersion relative to the mean (CV%: 12–84%). Therefore, a new equation (ITEnew) for the heat storage rates was proposed using the experimental data from this study. The results showed that ITEnew provided more precise estimations for the entire exercise period (p > 0.05). Correlations between ITEnew and IC values were consistently strong throughout the exercise period (r: 0.62–0.85). It can be suggested that ITEnew values can predict IC during the constant work rate steady-state exercise.

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This study was financially supported by Ege University, Scientific Research Projects Fund under grant number EGE.BAP-10.BESYO.003, and by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) Foundation under grant number122M883.

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Correspondence to Ali Berkay Avci.

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Balci, G., Avci, A., Colakoglu, M. et al. Estimation of Heat Production Rate using Thermal Data During Exercise in Indoor Environments: A Study of Heat Storage Rate in Male Athletes. Int J Biometeorol 68, 1109–1122 (2024).

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