Older adults may be at greater risk for occupational injuries given their reduced capacity to dissipate heat, leading to greater thermal strain and potentially cognitive decrements.
Purpose: To examine the effects of age and increased air velocity, during exercise in humid heat, on information processing and attention.
Methods: Nine young (24 ± 1 years) and 9 older (59 ± 1 years) males cycled 4 × 15 min (separated by 15 min rest) at a fixed rate of heat production (400 W) in humid heat (35°C, 60% relative humidity) under 0.5 (low) and 3.0 (high) m·s(-1) air velocity wearing coveralls. At rest, immediately following exercise (end exercise), and after the final recovery, participants performed an abbreviated paced auditory serial addition task (PASAT, 2 sec pace).
Results: PASAT numbers of correct responses at end exercise were similar for young (low = 49 ± 3; high = 51 ± 3) and older (low = 46 ± 5; high = 47 ± 4) males and across air velocity conditions, and when scored relative to age norms. Psychological sweating, or an increased sweat rate with the administration of the PASAT, was observed in both age groups in the high condition.
Conclusion: No significant decrements in attention and speeded information processing were observed, with age or altered air velocity, following intermittent exercise in humid heat.