How is airway health influenced by physical activity in cold environments? This is the main question for this research project that started in 2015.

Study in the climate chamber

Hyperborean is a research project led by Dr. Nikolai Stenfors (Umeå University). The project aims to explore the influence of cold environments on physical activity and airway health in elite, healthy and clinical populations.

The Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre is a key collaborator, delivering controlled cold exposure studies in our in-house environmental chamber. Since 2015, five studies have taken place at the Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre.

These studies have focused on developing a qualitative understanding of the symptoms that arise during exercise in the cold in healthy participants as well as participants with asthma and COPD.

In addition, we have explored the influence of environmental temperature on lung function and biomarkers of airway inflammation post-exercise with the aim to develop a mechanistic understanding of the respective roles of cold and exercise in the development of asthma.

Practical Applications

This research is expected to improve understanding of the role of cold air in the development of airway diseases such as asthma, which is common both in the general population and especially in winter endurance athletes such as cross-country skiers.

The studies performed to date have improved understanding of the symptoms that normally arise during exercise in the cold in healthy populations and those with respiratory disease. 

Cooperation and funding:

Dr. Helen Hanstock acts as the project lead at the Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre. SWSRC collaborators include Dr. Glenn Björklund and Alexander Patrician as well as placement students from Mittuniversitetet and the University of Bath (UK).

The project also involves a number of external collaborators from Umeå University and Region Jämtland-Härjedalen.

This project is ongoing and has received funding from Visare Norr, FoU-enheten Region Jämtland Härjedalen, Syskonen Perssons donationsfond and Gunhild och Assar Karlssons donationsfond.

Project leader

Helen Hanstock

Universitetslektor|Senior Lecturer


Project members

Glenn Björklund

Universitetslektor|Senior Lecturer