Effect of environmental conditions on athlete physiological field test results

Wood, R.J., Marsden, J.F. Finn, J.P., Travar, A.L., Effect of environmental conditions on athlete physiological field test results, Proceedings of the 6th Applied Physiologist Conference, Canberra, Australia, Nov 1999.

Darwin has a tropical climate with consistently high outdoor temperatures. Field testing of NTIS athletes is commonly performed under these tropical conditions. The results from such tests may be detrimentally affected by the environmental conditions, reducing the reliability and validity of the tests, and could make comparisons to testing results from other testing centers (eg. in the southern states) difficult. To avoid the high temperatures, some testing sessions for Darwin are scheduled for early in the morning or indoors, where the environmental stress is reduced.

A previous study conducted by the NTIS sport Science Unit in 1997 compared the beep test performed outdoor to indoor using nine male and female hockey players. The predicted VO2max was 4.8% higher indoors (48.5 v 51.0).

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of environmental conditions on physiological test results, and thereby determine the most appropriate testing conditions to benefit NTIS athletes. Also, the study design enabled the environmental effects on the different components of fitness to be compared.

RESULTS: The higher thermal stress while testing outdoors resulted in a greater amount of sweat loss. There were no significant differences in field test scores between the hot and cool conditions. However, some physiological responses (heart rates, blood lactates, RPE) differed between conditions for the suicide and beep tests. Further testing using more subjects and randomising the order of conditions may find that testing indoors can make minor differences to field test results, particularly for tests of longer duration.

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