What is an environmental chamber?
The environmental chamber is a room where conditions can be manipulated to represent a specific climate or altitude. Temperature can be set between -20⁰C and +50⁰C. The humidity can be increased up to 95%, and altitude can be simulated up to an equivalent of 5500m above sea level.
The environmental chamber is perfect for using as part of an acclimatisation program for individuals or groups planning on completing extreme sporting or charity events (e.g. Marathon Des Sables or Mount Everest climbs etc.). It can also be used to improve your fitness capabilities through altitude or heat sessions. The environmental chamber at MIHP is big enough to accommodate individuals or medium-sized groups.
What to expect from your session
Environmental chamber sessions vary depending on the type of environment that is being simulated, as well as the goal of the session. You can combine both altitude and temperature exposure (hot or cold), as well as increased humidity (if appropriate). All sessions are supervised by a member of the MIHP Performance Team.
Hot temperature training (above 35⁰C)
Evidence suggests that training in hot climates can help build up tolerance to heat exposure, increase rate of perspiration, blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness) and reduces overall core temperature.
An example session could involve 30–45 minutes of moderate-to-intense aerobic exercise with treadmills, Wattbikes or circuit training.
Core body temperature will be monitored throughout the session as a way of monitoring the physiological response to the conditions in the chamber. Other monitoring methods such as thermal sensation, thermal comfort and rate of perceived exhaustion will also be used at regular intervals. Sweat rate and fluid consumption can also be measured to provide a better insight
Based on this information, you’ll be advised on individual strategies for hydration and cooling, as well as strategies to gain physiological adaptations to enhance your performance in the heat.
Cold temperature training (below 10⁰C)
Typical measures that are monitored during this type of session include thermal sensation, thermal comfort, rate of perceived exhaustion, and heart rate.
Oxygen saturation levels are monitored at regular intervals during any sessions involving increased altitude
The Lake Louise Acute Mountain Sickness Score is also completed at regular intervals.
What to bring
- Clothing suitable to the environmental conditions, or the aim of the session e.g. wearing a race suit and helmet is optional for drivers but will provide a more accurate indication of sweat loss and sweat composition
- A change of clothes
- Any medication that may be needed due to allergies or exercise (e.g. Epipen or inhaler).