Thermal sensitivity to warmth during rest and exercise: a sex comparison

Nicola Gerrett, Yacine Ouzzahra, Samantha Coleby, Sam Hobbs, Bernard Redortier, Thomas Voelcker, George Havenith

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

PURPOSE: The study aimed to compare thermal sensation in response to a fixed warm stimulus across 31 body locations in resting and active males and females.

METHODS: Twelve males (20.6 ± 1.0 years, 78.1 ± 15.6 kg, 180 ± 8.9 cm, 34.4 ± 5.2 ml kg(-1) min(-1)) and 12 females (20.6 ± 1.4 years, 62.9 ± 5.5 kg, 167 ± 5.7 cm, 36.5 ± 6.6 ml kg(-1) min(-1)) rested in a thermoneutral (22.2 ± 2.2 °C, 35.1 ± 5.8 % RH) room whilst a thermal probe (25 cm(2)), set at 40 °C was applied in a balanced order to 31 locations across the body. Participants reported their thermal sensation 10 s after initial application. Following this, participants began cycling at 50 % [Formula: see text] for 20 min, which was then lowered to 30 % [Formula: see text] and the sensitivity test repeated.

RESULTS: Females had significantly warmer magnitude sensations than males at all locations (4.7 ± 1.8 vs 3.6 ± 2.2, p < 0.05, respectively). Regional differences in thermal sensation were evident but were more prominent for females. Thermal sensation was greatest at the head then the torso and declined towards the extremities. In comparison to rest, exercise caused a significant reduction in thermal sensation for males (∆thermal sensation; 0.86 ± 0.3, p < 0.05), but only at select locations in females (0.31 ± 0.56, p > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: The data provide evidence that the thermal sensation response to warmth varies between genders and between body regions and reduces during exercise. These findings have important implications for clothing design and thermophysiological modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1451-62
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Volume114
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Bicycling
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Rest
  • Sex Factors
  • Thermosensing
  • Young Adult

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