Dietary nitrate supplementation has been shown to increase nitric oxide (NO) metabolites, reduce blood pressure (BP) and enhance exercise performance. Acute exposure to ultraviolet (UV)-A light also increases NO bioavailability and reduces BP. We conducted a randomized, counterbalanced placebo-controlled trial to determine the effects of UV-A light alone and in combination with nitrate on the responses to sub-maximal steady-state exercise and time trial (TT) performance. Nine cyclists (VO2max 53.1 ± 4.4 ml/kg/min) completed five performance trials comprising 10 min submaximal steady-state cycling followed by a 16.1 km TT. Following a familiarization the final four trials were preceded, in random order, by either (1) Nitrate gels (NIT) + UV-A, (2) Placebo (PLA) + UV-A, (3) NIT + Sham light (SHAM) and (4) PLA + SHAM (control). The NIT gels (2 × 60 ml gels, ~8.1 mmol nitrate) or a low-nitrate PLA were ingested 2.5 h prior to the trial. The light exposure consisted of 20 J/cm(2) whole body irradiation with either UV-A or SHAM light. Plasma nitrite was measured pre- and post-irradiation and VO2 was measured continuously during steady-state exercise. Plasma nitrite was higher for NIT + SHAM (geometric mean (95% CI), 332 (292-377) nM; P = 0.029) and NIT + UV-A (456 (312-666) nM; P = 0.014) compared to PLA + SHAM (215 (167-277) nM). Differences between PLA + SHAM and PLA + UV-A (282 (248-356) nM) were small and non-significant. During steady-state exercise VO2 was reduced following NIT + UVA (P = 0.034) and tended to be lower in NIT + SHAM (P = 0.086) but not PLA + UV-A (P = 0.381) compared to PLA + SHAM. Performance in the TT was significantly faster following NIT + UV-A (mean ± SD 1447 ± 41 s P = 0.005; d = 0.47), but not PLA + UV-A (1450 ± 40 s; d = 0.41) or NIT + SHAM (1455 ± 47 s; d = 0.28) compared to PLA + SHAM (1469 ± 52 s). These findings demonstrate that exposure to UV-A light alone does not alter the physiological responses to exercise or improve performance in a laboratory setting. A combination of UV-A and NIT, however, does improve cycling TT performance in this environment, which may be due to a larger increase in NO availability.
Muggeridge, D. J., Sculthorpe, N., Grace, F. M., Willis, G., Thornhill, L., Weller, R. B., …Easton, C. (2015). Acute whole body UVA irradiation combined with nitrate ingestion enhances time trial performance in trained cyclists. Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, 48, 3-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.niox.2014.09.158