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The effects of swilling an l(−)-menthol solution during exercise in the heat

Mündel, Toby and Jones, David A. (2010) The effects of swilling an l(−)-menthol solution during exercise in the heat. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 109 (1). pp. 59-65. ISSN 1439-6327

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We have previously demonstrated that provision of a cold fluid (4 degrees C) during exercise in the heat increases fluid intake and improves exercise capacity when compared to a control fluid (19 degrees C). The present study investigated whether these positive effects could simply be replicated with a cooling agent, menthol. Nine healthy, non-acclimatised males (25 +/- 7 years; .VO(2max): 54 +/- 5 ml kg(-1) min(-1)) cycled to exhaustion at 65% of their peak aerobic power output at 34 degrees C, swilling 25 ml of either an L: (-)-menthol (0.01%) or orange-flavoured placebo solution every 10 min, whilst water was available ad libitum; all fluids were kept at 19 degrees C. Eight out of nine subjects cycled for longer whilst swilling with menthol and this resulted in a 9 +/- 12% improvement in endurance capacity. Rectal temperatures rose by 1.7 degrees C during exercise with the same time course in both conditions, whilst skin temperature remained largely unchanged. Swilling with menthol resulted in hyperventilation by 8 +/- 10 L min(-1) and reduced central (cardiopulmonary) ratings of perceived exertion by 15 +/- 14%. No differences between trials were observed for heart rate, oxygen uptake or carbon dioxide production, blood concentrations of glucose or lactate, sweat rate or volume of water ingested. We conclude that a change in the sensation of oropharyngeal temperature during exercise in the heat significantly affects endurance capacity, ventilation and the (central) sense of effort.

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