The effect of temperature, gradient, and load carriage on oxygen consumption, posture, and gait characteristics

Katrina Hinde, Ray Lloyd, Chris Low, Carlton Cooke

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    18 Citations (Scopus)
    190 Downloads (Pure)


    PURPOSE: The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate the effect of load carriage in a range of temperatures to establish the interaction between cold exposure, the magnitude of change from unloaded to loaded walking and gradient.

    METHODS: Eleven participants (19-27 years) provided written informed consent before performing six randomly ordered walking trials in six temperatures (20, 10, 5, 0, -5, and -10 °C). Trials involved two unloaded walking bouts before and after loaded walking (18.2 kg) at 4 km · h(-1), on 0 and 10% gradients in 4 min bouts.

    RESULTS: The change in absolute oxygen consumption (V̇O2) from the first unloaded bout to loaded walking was similar across all six temperatures. When repeating the second unloaded bout, V̇O2 at both -5 and -10 °C was greater compared to the first. At -10 °C, V̇O2 was increased from 1.60 ± 0.30 to 1.89 ± 0.51 L · min(-1). Regardless of temperature, gradient had a greater effect on V̇O2 and heart rate (HR) than backpack load. HR was unaffected by temperature. Stride length (SL) decreased with decreasing temperature, but trunk forward lean was greater during cold exposure.

    CONCLUSION: Decreased ambient temperature did not influence the magnitude of change in V̇O2 from unloaded to loaded walking. However, in cold temperatures, V̇O2 was significantly higher than in warm conditions. The increased V̇O2 in colder temperatures at the same exercise intensity is predicted to ultimately lead to earlier onset of fatigue and cessation of exercise. These results highlight the need to consider both appropriate clothing and fitness during cold exposure.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)417–430
    JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
    Issue number117
    Early online date2 Feb 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


    • Load carriage
    • cold exposure
    • oxygen consumption
    • stride length


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