This year members of the Environmental Extreme Lab (EEL) returned to the medical tent at the Brighton Marathon to carry out heat illness prevention research. The purpose of this year’s research was to collect questionnaire data on runners who were suffering from a heat illness. The heat illness susceptibility questionnaire (HIS-Q) was developed by a team of researchers within EEL and the initial reliability and validity was completed within a controlled laboratory environment at the University of Brighton. The Brighton Marathon presented the opportunity to test the HIS-Q in a field based environment, where core temperatures are often higher than that achieved through controlled laboratory testing.
The Environmental Extremes Lab once again supported athletes preparing for the Marathon des Sables this year, considered by many to be the world’s toughest foot race. Adding to the challenge of six stages, covering over 250km across sand dunes and desert, participants are required to carry all their own kit, have a limited water supply and, of greatest interest to our lab, do so in temperatures ranging from 30-50oC.
We are currently recruiting participants who are over 65 years old to take part in a research study that is examining different ways to prepare for hot weather in the UK. Kirsty Waldock, Rebecca Relf and Gregor Eichhorn are conducting this research as part of their PhD studies and would like to speak to you if you are interested in getting involved. Please see the recruitment poster below for details.
This research fits into a broader research theme within the Environmental Extremes Laboratory of ‘heat waves and the elderly’ and what practical heat alleviating methods can be used to reduce the negative consequences that hot weather can have on health, particularly during exercise.
Over the past few weeks, Dr Ash Willmott and PhD students Rebecca Relf and Kirsty Waldock, have helped the MSc Applied Sport Physiology and MSc Applied Exercise Physiology students investigate the sudomotor responses while exercising in a hot, humid environment (35⁰C, 60% relative humidity), replicating expected conditions for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Led by Ash and his current research theme of investigating alternate methods of heat acclimation outside of the traditional lab-based environmental chamber protocols, the students also assessed the efficacy of wearing a sauna suit during exercise in temperate conditions (20⁰C, 40% relative humidity).
Research by Emily Watkins into practical pre-cooling methods for PPE wearers during severe heat exposure was published in Applied Ergonomics today (15/2/18). Pre-cooling is a method used to reduce core temperature, heart rate, and the sensation of being hot when individuals are exposed to hot environments. The aim is to reduce core temperature before the heat exposure, meaning an individual will stay at a safe core temperature for longer. In our previous study “Fire Service Instructors’ Working Practices: A UK Survey” it was indicated that few instructors used pre-cooling and those that did were using a variety of methods. This study aimed to assess three practical pre-cooling methods currently being used by instructors, to identify which method is the most beneficial in terms of reducing physiological and perceptual strain experienced from a heat exposure. Inflammatory responses were also investigated, as they can be markers of an increased risk of a cardiovascular event. The pre-cooling methods used were ice slurry consumption, phase change vest, and forearm cooling.
The University of Brighton’s Environmental Extremes Lab (EEL) have been commissioned by the English Institute of Sport (EIS) to produce a resource pack that will contribute to developing the EIS’ heat optimisation strategy leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. On Thursday 11th January, we brought together the minds of twenty-one of the EEL team (twenty-two if you include Carl James on Skype) to scope out the challenges and potential strategies that can be captured in the resource pack. The pack will be for practitioners, other SSM staff and coaches working with athletes from a variety of sports / events to help them best prepare for the Tokyo environment.
Conference attendees (Ash, Emily & Kirsty circled, left picture)
Three of our members presented at the recent International Congress on Environmental Ergonomics (ICEE, http://www.environmental-ergonomics.org/) in Kobe, Japan. Emily Watkins (oral and poster presentation), Ash Willmott (oral presentation) and Kirsty Waldock (oral presentation).
It is with great pleasure that I can announce Ash Willmott successfully defended his PhD thesis on Friday 27th October 2017 entitled, ‘Optimising heat acclimation state and refining strategies for the acquisition of heat adaptations’. It has been a very emotional “journey” for Ash with many challenges that he has had to overcome, not least within his family. Therefore, seeing Ash perform as well as he did was immensely rewarding and Ash should be very proud of what he has accomplished. His external examiners [Dr Doug Thake (Coventry University) and Dr Jo Costello (University of Portsmouth)] were very impressed with his thesis, the volume of work and how prepared he was for the viva and as such, he has only very minor amendments to make.
Ash was supervised by Drs Neil Maxwell, Mark Hayes and Jeanne Dekerle and each of them were pivotal in his success. Alongside his supervisors, all the members of the Environmental Extremes Lab have been a wonderful support to him throughout it all and should receive recognition too. Ash’s PhD adds to a good number that have gone before him associated with evaluating heat alleviating strategies and is truly giving us an international reputation in the field.
Well done Ash!
Supervisors, Mark Hayes and Neil Maxwell, congratulating Ash for having submitted his PhD thesis (left) and then Ash taking a much-earned break post PhD viva in Seoul ahead of the Kobe ICEE Conference (right).