Menstrual status and thermoregulatory responses of active adolescents during exercise in a cold environment
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This study examined the interactions between the reproductive status and the thermoregulatory responses during exercise in the cold in girls involved in competitive sports. Four girls with established menstrual cycles comprised the eumenorrheic menarcheal group (EM) and 5 non-menstruating girls comprised the pre-menarcheal group (PM). During the first visit maximal oxygen consumption, height, weight and percent body fat (%BF) were measured. The second visit involved: a determination of metabolic rate in thermoneutrality (21°C) involving 10-min rest and 20-min cycling (30% of VCL max), and a cold stress test (5°C, 40% humidity, <0.3 m/s air velocity) involving 20-min rest and 40-min cycling (30% of VCL max.). Subjects in the EM group were tested twice in the chamber during the follicular and luteal phases. Pre-menarcheal subjects were found to have significantly (p<0.05) lower core temperatures during the final stages of cold exposure. Overall, body fat was not significantly correlated with core temperature in the cold, however there was a significant surface-to-mass ratio difference between the groups. While in the follicular phase, EM girls had a higher core temperature during cold exposure. Therefore, reproductive hormonal status seems to be an important factor in terms of cold tolerance in females during adolescence.