This study assessed whether donning a garment saturated with menthol and ethanol (M/E) can improve evaporative cooling and thermal perceptions versus water (W) or nothing (CON) during low intensity exercise and rest in warm, humid conditions often encountered in recreational/occupational settings. It was hypothesised there would be no difference in rectal (Tre) and skin (Tsk) temperature, infra-red thermal imagery of the chest/back, thermal comfort (TC) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) between M/E, W and CON, but participants would feel cooler in M/E versus W or CON.
Methods: Six volunteers (mean [SD] 22  years, 72.4 [7.4] kg and 173.6 [3.7] cm) completed (separate days) three, 60-min tests in 30°C, 70%rh, in a balanced order. After 15-min of seated rest participants donned a dry (CON) or 80mL soaked (M/E, W) long sleeve shirt appropriate to their intervention. They then undertook 30-min of low intensity stepping at a rate of 12steps/min on a 22.5cm box, followed by 15-min of seated rest. Measurements included heart rate (HR), Tre, Tsk (chest/back/forearm), thermal imaging (back/chest), thermal sensation (TS), TC and RPE. Data were reported every fifth minute as they changed from baseline and the area under the curves were compared by condition using one-way repeated measures ANOVA, with an alpha level of 0.05.
Results: Tre differed by condition, with the largest heat storage response observed in M/E (p<0.05). Skin temperature at the chest/back/forearm, and thermal imaging of the chest all differed by condition, with the greatest rate of heat loss observed in W and M/E respectively (p<0.01). Thermal sensation differed by condition, with the coolest sensations observed in M/E (p<0.001). No other differences were observed.
Conclusions: Both M/E and W enhanced evaporative cooling compared CON, but M/E causes cooler sensations and a heat storage response, both of which are likely mediated by menthol.
Keywords: Ethanol; Human; Menthol; Thermal comfort; Thermal sensation; Thermoregulation.
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