Background: It is well documented that heat acclimation of six or more sessions of at least 60 min duration prolongs the time to exhaustion during endurance walking, cycling and running in the heat. However, this type of acclimation is not specific to team sport activity and the effect of acclimation on prolonged high-intensity intermittent running has not yet been investigated.
Objective: To assess the impact of an intermittent acclimation protocol on distance run during team sport activity.
Methods: The impact of four short heat acclimation sessions (30–45 min of the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test; LIST) on high-intensity intermittent running capacity (LIST) in the heat (30°C, 27% relative humidity (RH)), was examined. Seventeen female well-trained games players were split into three groups: an acclimation group (30°C, 24% RH), a moderate training group (18°C, 41% RH) and a control group who did not complete any training between the main trials (pre-acclimation and post-acclimation). The pre-acclimation (A) and post-acclimation (B) trials were separated by 28 days to control for menstrual phase and verified using hormonal analysis. The four acclimation or moderate training sessions utilising the LIST were completed with one or two rest days interspersed between each session in a 10-day period prior to the post-acclimation trial (B).
Results: In the post-acclimation trial distance run was increased by 33% in the acclimation group (A: 7703 (SEM 1401) m vs B: 10215 (SEM 1746) m; interaction group × trial p<0.05), but was unchanged in the moderate and control groups. The acclimation group had a lower rectal temperature (interaction group × trial × time p<0.01) due to a lower rate of rise, and an increase in thermal comfort1 after acclimation (End A: 7 (SEM 2) vs 6 (SEM 2); interaction group × trial p<0.01). There was no difference in serum progesterone, aldosterone or cortisol concentrations following acclimation or between groups.
Conclusion: Four 30–45 min sessions of intermittent exercise induced acclimation, and resulted in an improvement in intermittent running exercise capacity in female games players. A lower rectal temperature and a concomitant rise in thermal comfort may be partly responsible for the improvement in exercise capacity.
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Competing interests: None.