Thermophysiological adaptations to passive mild heat acclimation

H Pallubinsky*, L Schellen, B R M Kingma, B Dautzenberg, M A van Baak, W D van Marken Lichtenbelt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Passive mild heat acclimation (PMHA) reflects realistic temperature challenges encountered in everyday life. Active heat acclimation, combining heat exposure and exercise, influences several important thermophysiological parameters; for example, it decreases core temperature and enhances heat exchange via the skin. However, it is unclear whether PMHA elicits comparable adaptations. Therefore, this study investigated the effect of PMHA on thermophysiological parameters. Participants were exposed to slightly increased temperatures (∼33°C/22% RH) for 6 h/d over 7 consecutive days. To study physiologic responses before and after PMHA, participants underwent a temperature ramp (UP), where ambient temperature increased from a thermoneutral value (28.8 ± 0.3°C) to 37.5 ± 0.6°C. During UP, core and skin temperature, water loss, cardiovascular parameters, skin blood flow and energy expenditure were measured. Three intervals were selected to compare data before and after PMHA: baseline (minutes 30-55: 28.44 ± 0.21°C), T1 (minutes 105-115: 33.29 ± 0.4°C) and T2 (minutes 130-140: 35.68 ± 0.61°C). After 7 d of PMHA, core (T1: -0.13 ± 0.13°C, P = 0.011; T2: -0.14 ± 0.15°C, P = 0.026) and proximal skin temperature (T1: -0.22 ± 0.29°C, P = 0.029) were lower during UP, whereas distal skin temperature was higher in a thermoneutral state (baseline: +0.74 ± 0.77°C, P = 0.009) and during UP (T1: +0.49 ± 0.76°C, P = .057 (not significant), T2:+0.51 ± 0.63°C, P = .022). Moreover, water loss was reduced (-30.5 ± 33.3 ml, P = 0.012) and both systolic (-7.7 ± 7.7 mmHg, P = 0.015) and diastolic (-4.4 ± 4.8 mmHg, P = 0.001) blood pressures were lowered in a thermoneutral state. During UP, only systolic blood pressure was decreased (T2: -6.1 ± 4.4 mmHg, P = 0.003). Skin blood flow was significantly decreased at T1 (-28.35 ± 38.96%, P = 0.037), yet energy expenditure remained unchanged. In conclusion, despite the mild heat stimulus, we show that PMHA induces distinct thermophysiological adaptations leading to increased resilience to heat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-186
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Journal Article

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