Thermal comfort modelling of body temperature and psychological variations of a human exercising in an outdoor environment

Jennifer K. Vanos, Jon S. Warland, Terry J. Gillespie, Natasha A. Kenny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Human thermal comfort assessments pertaining to exercise while in outdoor environments can improve urban and recreational planning. The current study applied a simple four-segment skin temperature approach to the COMFA (COMfort FormulA) outdoor energy balance model. Comparative results of measured mean skin temperature (T̄ Msk) with predicted T̄ sk indicate that the model accurately predicted T̄ sk, showing significantly strong agreement (r = 0.859, P < 0.01) during outdoor exercise (cycling and running). The combined 5-min mean variation of the T̄ sk RMSE was 1.5°C, with separate cycling and running giving RMSE of 1.4°C and 1.6°C, respectively, and no significant difference in residuals. Subjects' actual thermal sensation (ATS) votes displayed significant strong rank correlation with budget scores calculated using both measured and predicted T̄ sk (r s = 0.507 and 0.517, respectively, P < 0.01). These results show improved predictive strength of ATS of subjects as compared to the original and updated COMFA models. This psychological improvement, plus T̄ sk and T c validations, enables better application to a variety of outdoor spaces. This model can be used in future research studying linkages between thermal discomfort, subsequent decreases in physical activity, and negative health trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-32
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of biometeorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioclimatic urban design
  • COMFA model
  • Heat stress
  • Human comfort
  • Physical activity
  • Skin temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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