Hunt, B., Thom, N.J., Azadian, A., Libby, K., Patty, S., Sorenson, E., Tannous, D., & Walters, P
The ability to perform in the heat is critical for athletes, the military, and firefighters. Therefore, exploring novel ways to improve performance in the heat while not reducing aerobic and anaerobic work is important. Some studies suggest that various forms of localized cooling may enhance physical capacities that are conducted in warm environments. However, it is not known to what extent selective head cooling enhances performance. Therefore, we determined whether a brief period of selective head cooling could blunt the decline in aerobic performance typically seen during exercise in the heat.
22 healthy male participants aged 18-23 completed all test sessions and assessments.
Materials & Methods
Participants exercised on an electronically braked cycle ergometer for 40 minutes in the heat, raising core body temperature to ~39.0°C. Each participant then received either selective head cooling (WElkins Headliner) or sham cooling for 7 minutes. Participants then performed a graded exercise test to volitional exhaustion using a ramped protocol.
Head-cooling resulted in longer time to volitional exhaustion and increased power output over a control condition (p < 0.002). This effect translates into ~20 more seconds on the bike during the VO2 max protocol.