The research team includes: Edward Cole, PhD Student in Sport, Health and Exercise Science; Dr Andrew Garrett, Senior Lecturer and Graduate Research Director at the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences; Dr Kate Donnan, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology; Dr Andrew Simpson, Lecturer in Exercise and Respiratory Physiology.
Masters student, Karina Jackson, who is studying for an MSc in Cardiac Rehabilitation, also assisted Ed with the study. Karina said: “This project has allowed me to do some hands-on science as part of my masters degree – which is great experience for me.
“Working on this project with Ed has allowed me to collect a lot of data in a short space of time which sets me up in a great position to finish my Masters. Not only that but it has provided me with something to get fully invested in and dive head-first into an interesting topic. It has been a much more valuable experience for me – in comparison to conducting a systematic review, for example.”
To learn more from their research studies, the team also launched a new focus with older adults (50-70 years). It’s a hot water immersion study involving Triathletes who were preparing for the Ironman in Lanzorate (reputed to be one of the hardest Ironman challenges in the world). The team has also worked with ex-serviceman, Darren Wilson, as he prepared to walk Death Valley in the USA for the Walking with the Wounded charity.
Darren’s challenge to walk 125 miles over 10 days and will be completely self-supported in the heat of the desert.
Dr Andrew Garrett, who is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise and Environmental Physiology and Ed’s PhD supervisor, said: “We have been quite fortunate that we have a number of older (50-73 years), healthy, male and female participants who are preparing for ultra-endurance events in hot countries.
“This includes the Iron triathlon (3.8Km open water swim; 180km cycle and marathon run of 42.2km) in Lanzarote on the hot Canary Islands.
“One of our participants, Darren Wilson, an ex-serviceman is travelling to Death Valley in the USA to walk 125 miles over 10 days, self-supported, in the intense heat of the desert.”
“All the participants will be faced with hot conditions and the work we are doing at the University, with repeated hot water immersion will partially adapt them to the heat when they arrive in their respective hot destinations.
“This will reduce the risk of heat stress and allow them to focus on the other challenging needs of ultra-endurance activity. From a health perspective, it may be that the use of the hot water immersion technique that people could do in their own homes, could be used as a method of preparing older adults for heat waves in this time of climate change.”
Dr Garrett is a founder member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences’ Climate Change Action Team. The research of the team is closely aligned with the Association to better understand the implications of climate change and the effect it will have on society.
Read the study: Short-term heat acclimation protocols for an aging population: Systematic review.
Purpose of the review and how it was conducted
The review contained a total of 179 participants who took part in short term heat acclimation protocols. The age of the participants ranged from 50 to 76.
The aim was to investigate the feasibility and efficacy of short-term heat acclimation (STHA) protocols undertaken by people aged 50+.
There were 12 studies in total. Ten studies used an environmental chamber, one study compared hot water immersion to the chamber and the remaining study used a hot water-perfused suit.
The results showed that eight of the studies reported a decrease in core temperature following the STHA.
Five studies demonstrated post-exercise changes in sweat rates and four studies showed decreases in skin temperature.
The differences reported in physiological markers suggest that STHA could be viable in an older population.
To help Ed with his ongoing research into the effects of summer heat on older adults, please complete this online survey, which takes approximately 10 minutes. Participants need to be over 50 to take part.