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Restricted sweat evaporation preceding short term heat acclimation accelerates adaption in females


Short term heat acclimation (STHA) is a preferred regime for athletes, since it is easier to adopt when sustaining quality training and tapering performance in the weeks prior to competition. Females have been reported to establish an enhance sudomotor function following STHA; however, they require long term HA to establish cardiovascular and thermoregulatory adaptation [1]. The current study, assessed the effectiveness of five days of controlled hyperthermia HA, combined with a restricted sweat evaporation exposure, to elicit thermoregulatory, cardiovascular and sudomotor adaptation.


Nine females performed two running heat tolerance tests (RHTT) [2], separated by five controlled hyperthermia (Tr ~ 38.5°C) HA sessions. For 20 minutes before HA, participants were exposed to a temperate environment (HA) or a hot environment (50°C, 30% RH), whilst wearing a 100% Vinyl sauna suit (HAsauna). Conditions were performed in a balanced randomised order and separated by ~7 weeks. Testing was completed during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle or the pill free phase of oral contraception use; confirmed by plasma concentrations of 17β-estradiol and progesterone. A two-way repeated measures ANOVA was performed to identify difference in the physiological characteristics during the RHTT, between the HA and HAsauna conditions. When a main effect or interaction effect was found, results were followed up using Bonferroni corrected post hoc comparisons.


In the HAsauna condition, resting rectal temperature (Trrest) (-0.28(0.15) °C), resting heart rate (HRrest) (-9 (4) beats.min-1), peak rectal temperature (Trpeak) (-0.42(0.22) °C), peak heart rate (HRpeak) (-12(7) beats.min-1) peak skin temperature (Tskinpeak) (-0.89(0.86) °C), sweat ion concentration (-16(10) mmol.L-1) and sweat-onset Tr (-0.26(0.15) °C) reduced, sweat rate (SR) (+565(197) and forearm SR (SRforearm) (+0.15(0.14) mg.cm2/min) (p ≤ 0.05) increased. In the HA condition, HRpeak (-4(5) beats.min-1) and sweat ion concentration (-8(4) mmol.L-1) reduced; and SR increased (+462(399) (p ≤ 0.05); while no differences were observed in Trrest, Trpeak, HRrest, Tskinpeak, SRforearm and sweat-onset Tr. Plasma volume expansion was greater following the HAsauna condition (9.3(7.6) % vs. 1.3(5.0) %; p ≤ 0.05).


HAsauna was effective in attenuating thermoregulatory and cardiovascular strain; this was not achieved following the HA alone. Exercise was matched for metabolic heat production thus; the reduced thermoregulatory strain was potentially due to an increased evaporative heat loss, resulting in a reduction in heat storage as a result of altered afferent neural activity from the peripheral or central thermo-receptors. The reduced cardiovascular strain following HAsauna can be explained by the plasma volume expansion, suggesting an increased blood volume, thus preserving stroke volume and reducing heart rate at a given workload.


This study suggests females should consider including a period of restricted sweat evaporation prior to HA sessions to promote an accelerated thermoregulatory, cardiovascular and sudomotor adaptation.


  1. Mee JA, Gibson OR, Doust J, Maxwell NS: A comparison of males and females' temporal patterning to short- and long-term heat acclimation. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 2015b, 25: 250-258.

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  2. Mee JA, Doust J, Maxwell NS: Repeatability of a running heat tolerance test. Journal of Thermal Biology. 2015a, 49-50. 91-97

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Correspondence to Jessica Mee.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Mee, J., Peters, S., Doust, J. et al. Restricted sweat evaporation preceding short term heat acclimation accelerates adaption in females. Extrem Physiol Med 4 (Suppl 1), A112 (2015).

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