Reading health fitness articles yesterday, I came across an article in the online Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101025161144.htm) describing a study showing that exercising in the heat could improve athletic performance, not just in hot weather, but also in cooler conditions.
I found the abstract at the online Journal of Applied Physiology. Researchers at the Dept of Human Physiology, University of Oregon; and the Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine studied the effects of heat acclimation on cyclists' performances in both hot and cool environments. Twelve trained cyclists performed VO2max, lactate threshold, and time-trials in cool (55 degrees F) and hot (100 degrees F!) (both 30% humidity), before and after a 10-day heat acclimation program (exercising at approx. 50% of VO2max in 100 degrees F). Eight control cyclists performed the same tests before and after 10 days of the same exercise in cool conditions (55 degrees F).
Result for the heat-acclimated cyclists:
VO2max increased by 5% in cool environment, and by 8% in hot environment.
Time-trial performance increased by 6% in cool environment, and by 8% in hot environment.
Power output at lactate threshold increased by 5% in cool environment, and by 5% in hot environment.
The control cyclists had no changes in VO2max, time-trial performance, lactate threshold, or any other physiological measure.
The Science Daily article reports how heat acclimation "improves the body's ability ot control body temperature, improves sweating and increases blood flow through the skin, and expands blood volume allowing the heart to pump more blood to muscles, organs and the skin as needed." It brings up how presently many competitive athletes use high altitude training to improve performance, and that according to one of the researchers, Santiago Lorenzo, "heat acclimation is more practical, easier to apply and may yield more robust physiological adaptations."
Cool! Does that mean we will be seeing more elite endurance athletes training here in South Florida?