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Open Access Cognitive, Psychomotor, and Physical Performance in Cold Air After Cooling by Exercise in Cold Water

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Abstract:

O’Brien C, Tharion WJ, Sils IV, Castellani JW. Cognitive, psychomotor, and physical performance in cold air after cooling by exercise in cold water. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:568–573.



Introduction: This study evaluated performance after lowering core temperature at different rates while local tissues were either cooled (lower body) or not cooled (upper body). Methods: There were 10 men who volunteered to perform up to 8 cold water immersions (CWI) at combinations of 2 water temperatures (10°C and 15°C), 2 depths [waist (W), chest (C)], and 2 walking speeds (0.44 or 0.88 m · s−1) until their core temperature fell to 35.5°C, stabilized above that temperature, or they requested to stop. They also completed a control trial (120 min rest in 19°C air). Immediately following each CWI and control, cognitive and physical performance tests were performed in cold air (10°C; CAE). Results: Overall, the CWI protocol lowered rectal temperature by 0.3–1.0°C. Mean skin temperature was ∼26°C and finger temperature was ∼15°C during CAE. No statistical differences were observed across trials for any cognitive test. On the physical performance tests, step test performance was degraded ∼12% on CWI trials compared with control, but there were no differences in manual dexterity, hand grip strength, marksmanship, or pull-ups. Conclusions: These results indicate that cognitive performance can be maintained despite mild hypothermia, and that physical performance is related to local tissue temperature, not a moderately reduced core temperature.

Keywords: immersion; prediction; temperature

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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