Effect of hand cooling on body temperature, cardiovascular and perceptual responses during recumbent cycling in a hot environment

J Sports Sci. 2017 Jul;35(14):1466-1474. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2016.1215501. Epub 2016 Aug 5.


The purpose of this study was to quantify physiological and perceptual responses to hand immersion in water during recumbent cycling in a hot environment. Seven physically active males (body mass 79.8 ± 6.3 kg; stature 182 ± 5 cm; age 23 ± 3 years) immersed their hands in 8, 14 and 34°C water whilst cycling at an intensity (W) equivalent to 50% [Formula: see text]O2peak for 60 min in an environmental chamber (35°C, 50% relative humidity). 8 and 14°C water attenuated an increase in body temperature, and lowered cardiorespiratory and skin blood flow demands. These effects were considered to be practically beneficial (standardised effect size > 0.20). There was a tendency for 8 and 14°C to extend exercise duration versus 34°C (>7%). Heart rate, intestinal, mean skin and mean body temperature were less in 8°C compared to 14°C; these differences were considered practically beneficial. Augmented heat loss at the palm-water surface might enable cooler blood to return to the body and limit physiological strain. These findings provide a mechanistic basis for continuous hand cooling and indicate that endurance exercise in hot environments could be improved using this method. Future research should investigate its effectiveness during cycling and running performance.

Keywords: Heat; body temperature; hyperthermia; per-cooling; thermoregulation.

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Heart Rate
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Immersion*
  • Intestines / physiology
  • Male
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Skin Temperature
  • Water
  • Young Adult


  • Water