Global warming poses a risk for the development of heat-related physiological impairment, which can be aggravated when exercising in hot conditions. The aim of the present study was to investigate acute effects of exercising in hot conditions on cerebral blood flow velocity and systolic function in healthy individuals and to explore possible sex differences.


The experimental condition consisted of walking on a treadmill, at 5km/h and 2% incline, inside a heat chamber at 40°C (50%RH), for 90 minutes. Middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity (MCAv) and left ventricular global longitudinal strain (GLS; a sensitive index of systolic function), were assessed at baseline and every 30 minutes by means of transcranial Doppler and speckle-tracking echocardiography, respectively. Data is expressed in delta (Δ) and standard error.


Twenty-six individuals (13♂,13♀ 27.1±1.0yrs, P=0.02) completed the experimental protocol. Both males and females exhibited non-significant increases in MCAv from baseline at 30 minutes (♂Δ=2.55±2.15 P>0.05; ♀Δ=0.54±2.53cm.s-1, P>0.05; interaction P=0.63), followed by significant decreases relative to 30min, at 60min (♂Δ=-4.0±1.23 P=0.04; ♀Δ=-5.41±1.56cm.s-1, P=0.03; interaction P=0.63) and 90 minutes (♂Δ=-6.08±1.37 P<0.01; ♀Δ=-7.39±1.40cm.s-1, P<0.01; interaction P=0.63). In males, there was a significant decrease in GLS from baseline at 30min (Δ=2.44±0.69%, P<0.05), 60 (Δ=2.79±0.73%, P=0.03), and 90 (Δ=3.49±0.89%, P=0.03) minutes; no significant changes were observed in females.


Males and females presented similar patterns of change in cerebral blood flow velocity, including significant decreases with prolonged heat exertion. These changes occur in both sexes, despite changes in systolic strain only being apparent in males. These data suggest that sex differences may exist in the regulation of cerebrovascular responses to exercise in the heat in humans.

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Author notes

First author’s contact: [email protected]