About this Research Topic
Exercise is beneficial for maintaining health across the lifespan, including reducing incidence rates of chronic disease. Whilst the benefits of exercise are well-established, environmental factors (e.g., heat, light, pollution, hypoxia) can significantly impact one’s physiological response to exercise. High ambient temperature, humidity, particulate matter present in the air, reduced oxygen availability and acclimation status of an individual can each independently (and additively) affect training adaptations. This is especially concerning considering the rapid rate at which our global environment is changing (i.e., climate change, global warming, technology, industrialization).
Most studies reporting the independent and combined impact of environmental factors on physiological responses to exercise have been conducted in adults. However, a recent medical review has suggested that climate change will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in our populations, including the very young, the very old, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Unfortunately, there has been relatively little research conducted on how environmental factors will affect these exercising persons, either acutely or with chronic exposures, and particularly amongst children.
Perhaps, one reason for this data gap is because our society (especially in higher socio-economic status countries) is struggling to balance the idea of keeping children healthy and active, and protecting them from serious harm. Especially regarding outdoor physical activity and active play, we often place too many rules on what children can and cannot do, and where they can and cannot play. In this way, we may be hindering their natural ability to develop and learn, especially with regards to our outdoor environments. On the other hand, the risk of serious individual harm to exercising children not only refers to the environment (where the possibility of immediate physical harm may exist), but also as an independent stressor to the underlying physiology and chronic health status of the exercising child. The paucity of systematic environmental physiology studies in the pediatric exercise physiology arena is particularly worrisome when considering this population will be the one most affected by climate changes forecast over the next 10-20 years.
The goal of this Research Topic is to collate research investigating how the physiology of exercising children is affected by both acute and chronic exposure(s) to environmental factors (heat, light, pollution, hypoxia), both in the short and long-term.
Emphasis is placed on understanding the separate and combined effects of environmental issues on the acute and long-term physiology, health and physical performance of the exercising child. By examining this dynamic issue from a variety of perspectives, it is envisioned that an assessment of risk to the exercising child will be highlighted, both in terms of the immediate physiological issues of a single bout of exercise (in a single or multi-stressor environment), but also to the long-term effects experienced from chronic working conditions or repeated physical exposure(s) to a dynamic and often adverse, changing environment.
Welcome sub-topics include (but are not limited to):
• Thermoregulation in exercising children (both passive and active heat strain) with particular emphasis on geographical regions most affected by climate change
• Novel approaches for evaluating environmental heat exposure on working or exercising children and youth
• Exposure to pollutants, and their effects on cardiovascular health, respiratory or genetic expression in exercising children
• How environmental factors affect pediatric exercise performance
• Effects of light pollution on exercise habits, including the near-pervasive influence of smartphone and computer technologies
• Effects of self-isolation/confinement on physical fitness
• Interactions between lower physical fitness in children/youth and one’s ability to maintain minimal heat acclimatization; i.e., encouraging physical resiliency to changing environmental factors
Keywords: Climate Change, Physiology, Physical Fitness, Children, Population Health, Chronic Disease
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.