External pre-cooling prior to uncompensable exercise-heat stress reduces physiological strain but does not alter motorsport-related cognitive performance.

  • Fin Dixon

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMSc


Purpose: The objective of this study was to examine the effects of pre-cooling via cold water immersion (CWI), on physiological strain (PSI) experienced during, and motorsport-related cognitive performance pre and post, uncompensable exercise-heat stress similar to that of elite race driving.

Methods: Seven healthy adult males with competitive driving experience completed two trials in a repeated-measures, quazi-experimental design. Participants completed cognitive tests via a simulated race driving task pre and post rowing (heart rate ≈ 140 bpm) whilst wearing a sweat-suit in heated conditions (30°C, 40% relative humidity), until a 1.0°C rise in core temperature. Following a wash-out period, a load-matched trial was completed incorporating a pre-exercise, full-body CWI (20-minute, 17°C).

Results: Exercise-heat stress provoked a large increase in PSI (Δ = 5.2 ± 0.5, d = 11.88, CI = 5.6 to 4.8) and a contextually meaningful, albeit insignificant, reduction in simulated driving speed (Δ = 2.77 ± 11.53 s; d = -0.15, CI = 5.67 to -1.13). Pre-cooling largely attenuated mean PSI (d = -3.56, CI = -1.8 to -3.6), thermal sensation (r = -0.83, CI = -0.4 to -1.2) and rating of perceived exertion (r = -0.89, CI -0.6 to -1.4) experienced throughout the protocol, but did not significantly better maintain driving speed (d = -0.38, CI = 1.72 to -8.59) or error frequency (d = -1.00, CI = -0.76 to -2.76).

Conclusions: Pre-cooling via CWI provides an efficacious method of reducing objectively and perceptually measured physiological strain during exercise-heat stress, without significantly affecting simulated race driving performance.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorOliver Peacock (Supervisor)

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