Exercise in the Heat Series: The Science of Homeostasis

Written by Jared Kauffman.


Part Two of your summer education will take a look at exercising in the heat.  There can be many advantages, and some disadvantages to exercising in the heat.  You will go learn  the science of homeostasis and temperature regulation, how it can help you, then how to ensure you stay safe this summer.  


The Science:

  • Average resting body temperature is around 98-99 degrees.
  • A process called homeostasis allows your body to easily maintain this temperature range.
  • Homeostasis mainly involves controlling metabolism, blood flow, and fluid balance.
  • During exercise, your body temperature will increase only 1-2 degrees. 
  • This slight increase in temperature is mainly caused by the body breaking down of substrates (like carbohydrates, fats, and protein) into energy.
  • About 75% of produced energy is in the form of heat (not very efficient!). 
  • This increase in your body temperature does however signal the increase enzyme activity, which is necessary during exercise to increase rate of fuel production.  You use more energy so your body needs to provide more energy!
  • There is a sweet spot for temperature which is the reason for such a small fluctuation during exercise; at dangerously high temperatures of 106-108 some of the enzymes begin to denature and break down, which eventually can lead to death.  At very low temperatures, enzyme activity decreases so much that energy production is too low to sustain life. 

So how does the temperature outside affect your body when you exercise?  Next week, you’ll learn more about exercising in the heat

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