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Impact of Clothing on Exercise in the Heat

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Abstract

Clothing targeting the exercise enthusiast has been advertised to keep individuals drier, cooler, and more comfortable during exercise in the heat. The marketing of such clothing has increased dramatically within the last decade. In hot environments, clothing acts as a barrier to thermal balance by inhibiting evaporative and convective cooling. Clothing construction, fit, and fabric are all critical influences on the amount of sweat absorbed from the skin and transported throughout the clothing. The majority of the research analyzing advertised synthetic fabrics has shown no difference in thermoregulation or clothing comfort while exercising in those fabrics in the heat compared to natural fabrics. The influence of clothing construction on thermal balance has received minimal research in regards to exercise. Further research is needed in this area, since it is poorly understood from ecologically valid human testing. Future research should also consider examining the effects of clothing characteristics on comfort during exercise and recovery. The incorporation of protocols that more closely mirror sporting and recreational activity lasting >60 min as well as simulated work-related protocols lasting >120 min is warranted.

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No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The author has no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

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Correspondence to Jon-Kyle Davis.

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Davis, JK., Bishop, P.A. Impact of Clothing on Exercise in the Heat. Sports Med 43, 695–706 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-013-0047-8

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