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Skin Temperature Modifies The Impact Of Hypohydration On Aerobic Performance

R. W. Kenefick, S. N. Cheuvront, L. J. Palombo, B. R. Ely, M. N. Sawka

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This study determined the effects of hypohydration on aerobic performance in compensable [evaporative cooling requirement (Ereq) < maximal evaporative cooling (Emax)] conditions of 10°C [7°C wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT)], 20°C (16°C WBGT), 30°C (22°C WBGT), and 40°C (27°C WBGT) ambient temperature (Ta). Our hypothesis was that 4% hypohydration would impair aerobic performance to a greater extent with increasing heat stress. Thirty-two men [22 ± 4 yr old, 45 ± 8 ml·kg−1·min−1 peak O2 uptake (V̇o2peak)] were divided into four matched cohorts ( n = 8) and tested at one of four Ta in euhydrated (EU) and hypohydrated (HYPO, −4% body mass) conditions. Subjects completed 30 min of preload exercise (cycle ergometer, 50% V̇o2peak) followed by a 15 min self-paced time trial. Time-trial performance (total work, change from EU) was −3% ( P = 0.1), −5% ( P = 0.06), −12% ( P < 0.05), and −23% ( P < 0.05) in 10°C, 20°C, 30°C, and 40°C Ta, respectively. During preload exercise, skin temperature (Tsk) increased by ∼4°C per 10°C Ta, while core (rectal) temperature (Tre) values were similar within EU and HYPO conditions across all Ta. A significant relationship ( P < 0.05, r = 0.61) was found between Tsk and the percent decrement in time-trial performance. During preload exercise, hypohydration generally blunted the increases in cardiac output and blood pressure while reducing blood volume over time in 30°C and 40°C Ta. Our conclusions are as follows: 1) hypohydration degrades aerobic performance to a greater extent with increasing heat stress; 2) when Tsk is >29°C, 4% hypohydration degrades aerobic performance by ∼1.6% for each additional 1°C Tsk; and 3) cardiovascular strain from high skin blood flow requirements combined with blood volume reductions induced by hypohydration is an important contributor to impaired performance.