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Effect of a 5-min cold-water immersion recovery on exercise performance in the heat
  1. J J Peiffer1,2,
  2. C R Abbiss2,3,4,
  3. G Watson2,
  4. K Nosaka2,
  5. P B Laursen2
  1. 1Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease Research and Care, Vario Health Institute, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia
  2. 2School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia
  3. 3Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, Belconnen, ACT, Australia
  4. 4Division of Materials Science and Engineering, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Belmont, Vic, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jeremiah Peiffer, Vario Health Institute, Edith Cowan University, 270 Joondalup Drive, Building 21, Joondalup, WA, 6027, Australia; j.peiffer{at}


Background This study examined the effect of a 5-min cold-water immersion (14°C) recovery intervention on repeated cycling performance in the heat.

Methods 10 male cyclists performed two bouts of a 25-min constant-paced (254 (22) W) cycling session followed by a 4-km time trial in hot conditions (35°C, 40% relative humidity). The two bouts were separated by either 15 min of seated recovery in the heat (control) or the same condition with 5-min cold-water immersion (5th—10th minute), using a counterbalanced cross-over design (CP1TT1 → CWI or CON → CP2TT2). Rectal temperature was measured immediately before and after both the constant-paced sessions and 4-km timed trials. Cycling economy and Vo2 were measured during the constant-paced sessions, and the average power output and completion times were recorded for each time trial.

Results Compared with control, rectal temperature was significantly lower (0.5 (0.4)°C) in cold-water immersion before CP2 until the end of the second 4-km timed trial. However, the increase in rectal temperature (0.5 (0.2)°C) during CP2 was not significantly different between conditions. During the second 4-km timed trial, power output was significantly greater in cold-water immersion (327.9 (55.7) W) compared with control (288.0 (58.8) W), leading to a faster completion time in cold-water immersion (6.1 (0.3) min) compared with control (6.4 (0.5) min). Economy and Vo2 were not influenced by the cold-water immersion recovery intervention.

Conclusion 5-min cold-water immersion recovery significantly lowered rectal temperature and maintained endurance performance during subsequent high-intensity exercise. These data indicate that repeated exercise performance in heat may be improved when a short period of cold-water immersion is applied during the recovery period.

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  • Competing interests None.