Objective: The major objective of this study was to elucidate the effect of heat acclimation on blood growth hormone (GH) response to moderate intensity exhausting exercise in the heat. In addition, the potential relationship between inter-individual differences in GH response to exercise and variability in exercise-induced sweat loss was investigated.
Design: Twenty young men completed three exercise tests on a treadmill: H1 (walk at 60% VO₂peak until exhaustion at 42 °C), N (walk at 22 °C; duration equal to H1) and H2 (walk until exhaustion at 42 °C after a 10-day heat acclimation program). Core temperature (T(c)) was recorded continuously and venous blood samples were taken before, during and after each exercise test. Exercise-induced sweat production was calculated on the basis of body mass change taking into account water intake and the volume of blood samples drawn.
Results: Lower pre-exercise T(c), lower rate of rise in T(c) during exercise, and prolonged time to exhaustion in H2 compared with H1 revealed that the subjects successfully achieved an acclimated state. Overall, serum GH level was higher in H1 compared with both N and H2 (p<0.001) but did not differ between the two latter trials (p>0.05). T(c) correlated with serum GH concentration (r=0.615, p<0.01). Analysis of the individual data revealed a group (n=9) possessing a threshold-like pattern of the relationship between T(c) and blood GH response, whereas a plateau-like pattern was evident in the rest of the subjects (n=11). Both sweat production (r=0.596; p<0.001) and the rate of sweat production (r=0.457; p<0.001) correlated with the growth hormone area under the curve.
Conclusion: Heat acclimation decreases the GH response to moderate intensity exhausting exercise in the heat. GH may have a modest stimulating effect on whole-body sweat production during exercise.
Keywords: Acclimation; Core temperature; Endurance capacity; Growth hormone; Sweat production.