Thermoregulatory responses of pre-, mid-, and late-pubertal boys to exercise in dry heat.
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During exercise in a hot climate, children have been reported to have a less effective temperature regulation capability, compared with adults. It is likely that the transition from a child-like to an adult-like response occurs during puberty. To assess the association between the thermoregulatory response and physical maturation, three groups of circum-pubertal boys cycled at 50% VO2max (three 20-min bouts with 10-min rests), in a climatic chamber (42 degrees C, 20% relative humidity). Based on Tanner staging (pubic hair), 10 were classified as prepubertal (PP), 13 as midpubertal (MP), and eight as late pubertal (LP). Measurements included rectal and skin temperatures (Tre, Tsk), heart rate (HR), sweating rate (SR), oxygen consumption (VO2), and forearm blood flow (FBF). Tre, Tsk, and HR increased with time, with no significant difference among groups. Relative VO2 (ml O2.kg-1) was similar among groups. FBF was consistently higher in PP compared with LP. In spite of the higher SR (PP = 4.9 +/- 0.2, MP = 5.7 +/- 0.3, LP = 6.6 +/- 0.4 ml.min-1.m-2) (mean +/- SEM) among LP compared with PP, the rate of heat storage (PP = 5.5 +/- 0.4, MP = 5.3 +/- 0.4, LP = 6.8 +/- 0.3, kJ.h-1.kg-1) was also significantly higher among those in the LP group. Three of eight LP did not complete the session due to high Tre, while two of the 10 PP were unable to complete the session even though the physiologic heat strain was not high. The results suggest that the transition from a child-like to an adult-like thermoregulatory effectiveness in a hot, dry climate may occur at a somewhat later stage, but not during puberty.
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