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A light-weight cooling vest enhances performance of athletes in the heat

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During the 1990s, emphasis on the health and safety of people who exercise in hot, humid conditions increased and many organizations became aware of the need for protection against heat-related disorders. A practical, pre-cooling strategy applicable to several sporting codes, which is low cost, easy to use, light-weight and which enhances cooling of the human body prior to and following exercise, was developed and tested. Eight males and eight females participated in a maximal oxygen consumption (V˙O2max) test and four trials: a control (without cooling) and wearing each of three different cooling vests (A, B, C). Vests were worn during the rest, stretch, warm-up (50% V˙O2max) and recovery stages of the protocol, but not during the 30min run (70% V˙O2max). Core and skin temperatures during exercise were reduced (by approximately 0.5°C, rectal; 0.1 – 1.4°C, abdominal skin temperature) and sweat rates were lower (by approximately 10 – 23%). Endurance times for running at 95% of V˙O2max were increased by up to 49s. Perceptions of the thermal state and skin wetness showed changes to greater levels of satisfaction. Physiological and sensory responses were related to design features of the vests.
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Keywords: Exercise; Health and safety; Human performance; Sport; Thermophysiology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Fabric and Textile Design, Massey University 2: Pacific Sport, British Columbia, Canada 3: Clothing and Textile Sciences 4: Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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