n International SportMed Journal - The application of research to athletic performance in the cold : review article

Volume 6, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1528-3356



&lt;I&gt;Objective:&lt;/I&gt; This review presents an overview of the literature relating to aspects of exercise in a cold environment. <br><I>Data sources:&lt;/I&gt; MEDLINE, PubMed and ISI Web of Knowledge were used to search the literature base with no restraint on the date of publication. The review was completed in September 2005 and reflects the literature until that point. The keywords used were: cold, exercise and performance. <br><I>Study section:&lt;/I&gt; Over 60 references are cited. <br><I>Data extraction:&lt;/I&gt; Studies which have robust experimental procedures are cited. Where there are possible limitations, these have been identified. <br><I>Data synthesis:&lt;/I&gt; Exercise can be used to offset heat loss in cold environments; however, the intensity must overcome the negative effects of the exercise, which include losing the insulative capacity of the resting muscle and any insulative boundary layer around the body. However, there is a metabolic cost of this increase in activity. At moderate intensity activity, a temperature of 3-10<sup>o</sup>C is advantageous, whereas in low-, high- and intermittent activities, a cold environment is deleterious to performance. The predominant fuel at all intensities would appear to be carbohydrates and dietary strategies should reflect this. &lt;br&gt;&lt;I&gt;Conclusion:&lt;/I&gt; Speed swimming should be undertaken at temperatures around 28-30<sup>o</sup>C, whilst moderate intensity exercise in air is optimised around 3-10<sup>o</sup>C. At environmental temperatures below 0<sup>o</sup>C fat utilisation is inhibited and at all temperatures the dominant fuel is carbohydrate. Acclimatisation to cold is possible but more work is required to prescribe acclimation protocols.

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