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Female upper body and breast skin temperature and thermal comfort following exercise

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Breast support reduces breast pain and movement during exercise, however, an extra layer of clothing may affect thermoregulation. This preliminary study investigated female upper body and breast skin temperature and thermal comfort following short-duration exercise. Eight female participants with C-cup breasts had thermal images (infra-red camera, FLIR systems) of the bare breasts, the breasts in two sports bras (composite and polyester) and the abdomen, taken before and after 20 min of exercise at 28oC. Following exercise, bare-breast, bra and abdomen temperatures reduced by 0.61oC, 0.92oC and 2.06oC, respectively. The polyester sports bra demonstrated greater thermal comfort and enabled a greater change in skin temperature than the composite sports bra. It is concluded that following short-duration exercise, sports bras reduced the cooling ability of the breast. Material properties of the bras affect thermal comfort and post-exercise skin temperature; this should be an important consideration for sports bra manufacturers.

Practitioner summary: This study investigates the effect of sports bras on thermal regulation of the breast following exercise. Sports bras negatively affected the cooling ability of the skin on the breast, with the material properties of the bra affecting thermal comfort following exercise. These results present important considerations for sports bra manufacturers.
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Keywords: sports bra; thermal comfort; thermoregulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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