Research Study Abstract

Progressive dry to humid hyperthermia alters exercise cerebral blood flow

  • Published on July 31, 2019

Exercising in hot conditions may increase the risk for exertional heat-related illness due to reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF); however, the acute effect of exercise-induced changes on CBF during compensable and uncompensable heat stress remain unclear. We tested the hypothesis that exercising in hot dry and humid conditions would have different CBF responses.

Nine healthy active males completed a 30 min baseline rest then 60 min of low intensity self-paced exercise (12 rating of perceived exertion) in a 1) control compensable neutral dry (CN; 23.7 ± 0.7 °C; 10.7 ± 0.8%Rh) and 2) compensable hot dry (CH; 42.3 ± 0.3 °C; 10.7 ± 1.8%Rh) that progressively increased to an uncompensable hot humid (UCH; 42.3 ± 0.3 °C; 55.2 ± 7.7%Rh) environment in random order separated by at least 4 days.

We observed that during CN environments from rest through 60 min of exercise, middle cerebral velocity (MCAvmean) and conductance (MCAvmean CVC) remained unchanged. In contrast, during CH, MCAvmean, MCAvmean CVC, and cardiac output (Q) increased and systemic vascular resistance (SVR) decreased. However, under UCH, MCAvmean, MCAvmean CVC, and Q was reduced. No difference in mean arterial pressure or ventilation was observed during any condition. Only during UCH, end-tidal PO2 increased and PCO2 decreased. The redistribution of blood to the skin for thermoregulation (heart rate, skin blood flow and sweat rate) remained higher during exercise in UCH environments.

Collectively, exercise cerebral blood flow is altered by an integrative physiological manner that differs in CN, CH, and UCH environments. The control of CBF may be secondary to thermoregulatory control which may provide an explanation for the cause of exertional heat illness.


  • Eric Rivas 1,2
  • Kyleigh N. Allie 1,2
  • Paolo M. Salvador 1,2


  • 1

    Exercise & Thermal Integrative Physiology Laboratory, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA

  • 2

    Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA


Journal of Thermal Biology