Quantifying Exercise Heat Acclimatisation in Athletes and Military Personnel: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Harry A Brown, Thomas H Topham, Brad Clark, Leonidas G Ioannou, Andreas D Flouris, James W Smallcombe, Richard D Telford, Ollie Jay, Julien D Périard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Athletes and military personnel are often expected to compete and work in hot and/or humid environments, where decrements in performance and an increased risk of exertional heat illness are prevalent. A physiological strategy for reducing the adverse effects of heat stress is to acclimatise to the heat. Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to quantify the effects of relocating to a hotter climate to undergo heat acclimatisation in athletes and military personnel. Eligibility Criteria: Studies investigating the effects of heat acclimatisation in non-acclimatised athletes and military personnel via relocation to a hot climate for < 6 weeks were included. Data Sources: MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL Plus with Full Text and Scopus were searched from inception to June 2022. Risk of Bias: A modified version of the McMaster critical review form was utilised independently by two authors to assess the risk of bias. Data Synthesis: A Bayesian multi-level meta-analysis was conducted on five outcome measures, including resting core temperature and heart rate, the change in core temperature and heart rate during a heat response test and sweat rate. Wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT), daily training duration and protocol length were used as predictor variables. Along with posterior means and 90% credible intervals (CrI), the probability of direction (Pd) was calculated. Results: Eighteen articles from twelve independent studies were included. Fourteen articles (nine studies) provided data for the meta-analyses. Whilst accounting for WBGT, daily training duration and protocol length, population estimates indicated a reduction in resting core temperature and heart rate of − 0.19 °C [90% CrI: − 0.41 to 0.05, Pd = 91%] and − 6 beats·min −1 [90% CrI: − 16 to 5, Pd = 83%], respectively. Furthermore, the rise in core temperature and heart rate during a heat response test were attenuated by − 0.24 °C [90% CrI: − 0.67 to 0.20, Pd = 85%] and − 7 beats·min −1 [90% CrI: − 18 to 4, Pd = 87%]. Changes in sweat rate were conflicting (0.01 L·h −1 [90% CrI: − 0.38 to 0.40, Pd = 53%]), primarily due to two studies demonstrating a reduction in sweat rate following heat acclimatisation. Conclusions: Data from athletes and military personnel relocating to a hotter climate were consistent with a reduction in resting core temperature and heart rate, in addition to an attenuated rise in core temperature and heart rate during an exercise-based heat response test. An increase in sweat rate is also attainable, with the extent of these adaptations dependent on WBGT, daily training duration and protocol length. PROSPERO Registration: CRD42022337761.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalSports Medicine
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2023

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying Exercise Heat Acclimatisation in Athletes and Military Personnel: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this