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Can exercise increase your core body temperature?

Written by Fiona

November 17 2020

Have you ever wondered why your body starts to feel hot and you start sweating whenever you take part in physical activity? Essentially, there are several physical and mental changes happening in your body unbeknown to you when you exercise. As rhythmic movement or exercise of our body is not its usual state, it needs a little wake-up call and acclimation to do before it is prepared to move the way you want it to move. This acclimation process includes sending adequate signals to our brain, adjusting our temperature, slowing down the digestive process, increasing the cardiorespiratory system, and so on. This article explains how exercising can change your core body temperature.

What Is the Core Body Temperature?

There is a difference in the temperature of your external skin and the temperature of your internal organs. Core body temperature is the temperature within your body. Unlike peripheral or skin temperature, core body temperature doesn’t fluctuate depending on the environment, but it has a great impact on your body’s wellbeing. The average adult human core body temperature should be within the range of 97.7° F – 101.3° F.

What Happens When You Exercise?

You can take up exercise for various reasons, such as for activating core temperature weight loss or boosting your metabolism. Whenever you are exercising, there are a plethora of physiological changes that happen to your lungs, muscles, diaphragms, heart, stomach and brain. The processes can kick off right after you start an exercise and can last even hours after you have finished your exercise. Here is the basic overview of these changes:  

Heat Generation by Muscles: Exercising is a way to move and activate our muscles. When you move your muscles, they burn the energy stored in them in the form of sugar and glucose. When this reserved energy is dispelled, your body produces ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) by increasing the rate of oxygen intake to find more energy to spend. This process of generating ATP also produces heat as a byproduct.

Balancing Out the Temperature Through Radiation: The heat produced by muscles can increase your core temperature. The hypothalamus in the brain receives signals from muscles to adjust the increase in temperature. Exercise also increases blood flow to bring nourishment to muscles, which later warms the blood. All this heat is then directed toward your skin, during the radiation process, where the temperature is lower than your core.

Balancing Out the Temperature Through Perspiration: Radiation and sweating are the two ways your body can cool off. When your brain (hypothalamus) senses that body temperature is going up, it activates the sweat glands of your body. These sweat glands release beads of water through your skin and the water evaporates into the environment. This evaporation process is vital as it also dissipates some of the heat of your body.

Body’s Acclamation Process after the Exercise: Our body is all about balancing everything. After you are finished your exercise, it quickly reactivates the process that it slowed down during exercise (digestion) and slows down the processes that were sped up during exercise (cardiovascular system and blood flow). The fitter you are, the more adept your body will be to this transition. Even after hours of commencing the exercise, your body can continue to experience its effects such as an increase in the metabolic rate, a decrease in the resting heart rate, and so on.

What Happens When You Exercise in a Hot and Humid Environment? The principle of evaporation can take place only when the humidity is lower. If the humidity is high, the air is already saturated with water vapour; it cannot take in anymore vapour. Perspiration or sweating works similarly, if the humidity is high, there is less chance to evaporate the sweat. As the chance of evaporation is off the table, your body has to rely only on radiation (directing warm blood flow to the outer skin) to cool it off in a humid environment.

What Happens When You Exercise in A Cold Environment? You might think exercising in cold, dry weather will be better as there are more chances of sweating. But exercising in extremely cold weather has its down side. You need more energy to keep some heat in your body while exercising in the cold. Exercising in the cold can also make you dehydrated as you don’t feel the thirst and do not notice the fluid loss of your body through respiration and sweating.

The Ideal Temperature for Exercising: As the temperature and environment have a great impact on our body, we need to exercise in a controlled environment. You need a condition that will allow you to sweat to prevent your body from overheating. However, excessive sweat doesn’t mean you are shedding off fat; it is just fluid loss. The ideal temperature for working out should be within 68° F- 72° F, though it might vary with personal preferences.

Exercise and Core Temperature: Your core body temperature temporarily spikes during exercise, but it also regulates itself so you don’t run the risk of overheating. However, regular exercise can strengthen your metabolism process and that can result in a significant increase in core body temperature. Regular workout also contributes to improving your heart, blood flow, and overall physiological condition. To improve your metabolism and core body temperature, maintain a regular workout routine that allows your body to stretch its limits.

On a final note, when you know how your body reacts to certain factors or activities, it becomes easier for you to manipulate those in your favour. Regulating your core body temperature through regular exercise is an effective way to improve your body’s well-being. Include a regular workout routine in your life to enjoy better physical and mental wellbeing. However, try to be cautious while exercising in extreme conditions or adapting any excessive workout routine.

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