A review of comparative responses of men and women to heat stress

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Most of our present knowledge regarding human responses to thermal stress is primarily a result of research conducted on male subjects. Recently, as women have moved into the industrial workplace and forefront of athletic activity, attention has turned to comparative responses of men and women. Very limited research on preadolescent children suggests no physiological thermoregulatory sex differences except for a slightly higher sweat rate in lean boys as compared to lean girls of a similar age. Boys also tended to be more tolerant of higher temperatures. Current beliefs regarding men and women are: (1) Women, as a population, are less tolerant to a given imposed heat stress; however, if cardiovascular fitness level, body size, and acclimation state are standardized, the differences tend to disappear; (2) women have a lower sweat rate than men of equal fitness, size, and acclimation which is disadvantageous in hot-dry environments, but advantageous in hot-wet environments; and (3) menstrual cycle effects are minimal. It is concluded that aerobic capacity, surface area-to-mass ratio, and state of acclimation are more important than sex in determining physiological responses to heat stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science


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