Optimising heat illness prevention strategies for the elderly population

  • Kirsty A.M. Waldock

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

The aim of this thesis was to develop practical strategies for the maintenance of safe and effective exercise during periods of hot weather for the elderly population. Strategies were focused on the prevention of heat illness during exercise that simulated activities of daily living for elderly people in UK summer climatic conditions.

The first study investigated the validity and reliability of a new heat illness susceptibility questionnaire (HIS-Q). The HIS-Q demonstrated significant construct validity, via a significant decrease in individual HIS-Q scores post short term heat acclimation (STHA). The reliability of the HIS-Q during a laboratory protocol with mild heat stress could be improved, warranting further HIS-Q investigation within field-based environments with greater heat stress.

The second study assessed elderly peoples’ physiological and perceptual responses to exercise at different intensities that simulated activities of daily living, across UK summer climatic conditions. Elderly people had an increase in physiological and thermal strain with an increase in exercise intensity and heat stress. However, there was a decreased perceptual awareness of the environment, due to minimal or no change in perceptual strain with an increase in heat stress.

The third study investigated elderly peoples’ physiological and perceptual responses to physical and perceptual cooling during exercise simulating moderate activities of daily living in the hottest UK summer climatic conditions. Findings suggest that when elderly people drink refrigerated water periodically throughout rest and exercise, their physiological strain decreases. It also provided further evidence of a decreased perceptual awareness, as L-menthol had no observed changes in perceptual markers of thermal strain. Performance and physiological strain in a six-minute walk test of functional exercise capacity, were also improved in the refrigerated water trial compared to L-menthol and control trials.

The last study compared the differences in phenotypic adaptations to isothermic STHA, between elderly and young adults. Additionally, it assessed the differences in phenotypic adaptations between a novel STHA protocol and isothermic STHA within the elderly. The outcome of the study was the development of some phenotypic adaptations in the elderly groups from day 1 to day 5 of STHA.

The main outcomes of this thesis were; elderly people have a decreased perceptual awareness of the environment, when UK summer climatic conditions are at their hottest. Additionally, acute and chronic strategies for the prevention of heat illness have the potential to protect the elderly against the harmful effects of heat.
Date of AwardMar 2029
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorNeil Maxwell (Supervisor), Mark Hayes (Supervisor) & Peter Watt (Supervisor)

Cite this

Optimising heat illness prevention strategies for the elderly population
Waldock, K. A. M. (Author). Mar 2029

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis