Pushing the limits of human performance: Adaptation to heat and athletics achievements, a new hot topic
Chronic exposure to a stressor elicits adaptations enhancing the tolerance to that stressor. These adaptive responses might also improve tolerance under less stressful conditions. For example, historically there has been much interest in the adaptive responses to high-altitude, or hypoxia, and their ergogenic potential under sea- level, or normoxic, conditions. In contrast, the influence of the adaptive responses to heat on exercise under cooler conditions has received relatively little interest. Heat acclimation (HA) is known to increase work capacity in hot environments. Yet, aerobic exercise performance can progressively deteriorate as ambient temperature increases beyond 10 °C, indicating a thermal limitation even under relatively cool conditions. Recent research provided data showing that a repeated bout of muscle-damaging-exercise (EIMD) blunted the increase in heat strain during exercise heat stress conducted after EIMD. Therefore, incorporating a muscle-damaging bout into training has shown to be a strategy to improve endurance performance in individuals undertaking heavy exercise in the heat. Unfortunately, the mechanism responsible for this adaptation remains elusive. Moreover, the suite of adaptations elicited by HA has the potential to increase maximal oxygen uptake, lactate threshold and economy, and thus may be ergogenic even under conditions where performance is not thermally limited. Potentially, once understood the mediators of this adaptation, they could be managed to reduce the progressive deterioration of aerobic performance in environments where temperature is higher than 10 °C providing benefits to Athletes, Soldiers, Elderly and Outdoor enthusiasts.
Therefore this project aims to:
• Understand the effect of muscle inflammation upon thermoregulation.
• Find biochemical and genetic changes at intracellular level to induce HA.
• Implement dietary and physical training strategies to induce ergogenic effects even under conditions where performance is not thermally limited.
This project will enable the student to develop skills in physiology, biochemistry, biology, nutritional assessment, and sports performance, alongside important transferable skills to aid future career progression. The candidate will be encouraged to join The Physiological Society, to attend relevant conferences, to participate in formal, intensive workshops and individual sessions at the University of Westminster Graduate School training programme and will have the opportunity to obtain a Postgraduate Certificate in teaching and learning.
The Studentship consists of a fee waiver and a stipend of £16,000 per annum. Successful candidates will be expected to undertake some teaching duties.
Dolci et al., Repeated muscle damage blunts the increase in heat strain during subsequent exercise heat stress (2015).
Fortes et al., Muscle-damaging exercise increases heat strain during subsequent exercise heat stress (2013).
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