Journal of Applied Physiology


The effects of repeated cold water immersion on thermoregulatory responses to cold air were studied in seven males. A cold air stress test (CAST) was performed before and after completion of an acclimation program consisting of daily 90-min cold (18 degrees C) water immersion, repeated 5 times/wk for 5 consecutive wk. The CAST consisted of resting 30 min in a comfortable [24 degrees C, 30% relative humidity (rh)] environment followed by 90 min in cold (5 degrees C, 30% rh) air. Pre- and postacclimation, metabolism (M) increased (P less than 0.01) by 85% during the first 10 min of CAST and thereafter rose slowly. After acclimation, M was lower (P less than 0.02) at 10 min of CAST compared with before, but by 30 min M was the same. Therefore, shivering onset may have been delayed following acclimation. After acclimation, rectal temperature (Tre) was lower (P less than 0.01) before and during CAST, and the drop in Tre during CAST was greater (P less than 0.01) than before. Mean weighted skin temperature (Tsk) was lower (P less than 0.01) following acclimation than before, and acclimation resulted in a larger (P less than 0.02) Tre-to-Tsk gradient. Plasma norepinephrine increased during both CAST (P less than 0.002), but the increase was larger (P less than 0.004) following acclimation. These findings suggest that repeated cold water immersion stimulates development of true cold acclimation in humans as opposed to habituation. The cold acclimation produced appears to be of the insulative type.