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The effects of warming by active and passive means on the subsequent responses to cold water immersion

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  • Sports And Exercise Sciences


Two experiments were undertaken to investigate the effects of warming the body upon the responses during a subsequent cold water immersion (CWI). In both experiments the subjects, wearing swimming costumes, undertook two 45-min CWIs in water at 15° C. In experiment 1, 12 subjects exercised on a cycle ergometer until their rectal temperatures (T re) rose by an average of 0.73°C. They were then immediately immersed in the cold water. Before their other CWI they rested seated on a cycle ergometer (control condition). In experiment 2, 16 different subjects were immersed in a hot bath (40° C) until their T re rose by an average of 0.9° C; they were then immediately immersed in the cold water. Before their other CWI they were immersed in thermoneutral water (35° C; control condition). Heart rate in both experiments and respiratory frequency in experiment 1 were significantly (P < 0.05) higher during the first 30 s of CWI following active warming. In experiment 1, the rate of fall of T re during the final 15 min of CWI was significantly (P < 0.01) faster when CWI followed active warming (2.46° C · h−1) compared with the control condition (1.68°C · h−1). However, this rate was observed when absolute T re was still above that seen in the control CWIs. It is possible, therefore, that if longer CWIs had been undertaken, the two temperature curves may have converged and thereafter fallen at similar rates; this was the case with the aural temperature (T au) seen in experiment 1 and the T au and T re in experiment 2. It is concluded that pre-warming is neither beneficial nor detrimental to survival prospects during a subsequent CWI.

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