Wildfire suppression is characterized by high total energy expenditure and water turnover rates. Hydration position stands outside hourly fluid intake rates. However, dose interval remains ambiguous. We aimed to determine the effects of microdosing and bolus-dosing water and microdosing and bolus-dosing carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions on fluid balance, heat stress (physiologic strain index [PSI]), and carbohydrate oxidation during extended thermal exercise.
In a repeated-measures cross-over design, subjects completed four 120-min treadmill trials (1.3 m·s⁻¹, 5% grade, 33°C, 30% relative humidity) wearing a US Forest Service wildland firefighter uniform and a 15-kg pack. Fluid delivery approximated losses calculated from a pre-experiment familiarization trial, providing 22 doses·h⁻¹ or 1 dose·h⁻¹ (46±11, 1005±245 mL·dose⁻¹). Body weight (pre- and postexercise) and urine volume (pre-, during, and postexercise) were recorded. Heart rate, rectal temperature, skin temperature, and steady-state expired air samples were recorded throughout exercise. Statistical significance (P<0.05) was determined via repeated-measures analysis of variance.
Total body weight loss (n=11, –0.6±0.3 kg, P>0.05) and cumulative urine output (n=11, 677±440 mL, P>0.05) were not different across trials. The micro-dosed carbohydrate-electrolyte trial sweat rate was lower than that of the bolus-dosed carbohydrate-electrolyte, bolus-dosed water, and microdosed water trials (n=11, 0.8±0.2, 0.9±0.2, 0.9±0.2, 0.9±0.2 L·h⁻¹, respectively; P<0.05). PSI was lower at 60 than 120 min (n=12, 3.6±0.7 and 4.5±0.9, respectively; P<0.05), with no differences across trials. The carbohydrate-electrolyte trial’s carbohydrate oxidation was higher than water trial’s (n=12, 1.5±0.3 and 0.8±0.2 g·min⁻¹, respectively; P<0.05), with no dosing style differences.
Equal-volume diverse fluid delivery schedules did not affect fluid balance, PSI, or carbohydrate oxidation during extended thermal work.