Cold temperature does not affect perceived exertion in males and females during submaximal cycling

Adele Gandy, Marianne F Baird, Gary W Boyd, Chris Connaboy, Scott M Graham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Perceived exertion is an acknowledged indicator of exercise intensity and homeostasis disturbance of an individual, however, there are few studies that have examined the influence of cold temperatures on perceived exertion measurements. Cognition is crucial to perception and exposure to cold temperatures can elicit decrements in cognition. 
Aims & Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine if, and to what extent, exposure to cold environments may influence perceived exertion and cognitive ability. 

Study Design: Randomised controlled trial. 

Materials & Methods: Sixteen participants (m= 8, f= 8, age: 22.3 ± 1.7 years (mean ± SD)), completed two trials in a randomised order in COLD (5°C) and CONTROL (18 °C, 55% relative humidity) conditions. During each trial, following a standardised warm up, participants performed a 6-minute cycle ergometer submaximal exercise. Cognitive ability was assessed pre and post exercise with a reaction time (RT) test. Participant’s physiological responses were measured using Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), Heart Rate (HR), Oxygen consumption (VO2), Minute Ventilation (VE), Tympanic (Tt) and Skin Temperature (Tsk) continuously during testing. 

Statistics: Two-way repeated measures Analysis of Variances (ANOVA), were between environmental conditions over time. Data are reported as mean (M) ± standard deviation (SD). Ordinal Friedman ANOVA tests were conducted on RPE data between environmental conditions and gender. Non-parametric descriptive statistics were reported as medians (Mdn) and inter-quartile ranges (IQR) (25th – 75th Percentile). Statistical significance was accepted at p < 0.05. 

Results: There was no significant difference (p > 0.05) reported in RPE, VO2 and VE between COLD and CONTROL groups, however, significant decreases in Tsk (p = 0.001) and Tt (p = 0.001) were observed in COLD compared to CONTROL groups. Additionally, no significant differences (p > 0.05) in RT occurred between COLD and CONTROL. Furthermore, no significant differences in RPE were established between genders. 

Conclusions: Short-term exposure to cold temperatures does not significantly affect physical exertion perception or cognitive ability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Sport, Exercise and Health Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2020


  • cold
  • cognition
  • perceived exertion
  • thermoregulation


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