What Effect Does Exercise Have on Your Body Temperature?

Runner in the park
Perspiration helps regulate body temperature. (Image: Alan Lawrence/iStock/Getty Images)

As you exercise, your muscles warm up, and you feel sweat forming on your brow. Even your breath feels hot. Two ways your body regulates body temperature are perspiration and respiration. Your muscles need a steady flow of energy to keep working. Heat is created when your muscles make energy. Your body works hard to regulate this temperature change and keep you within a safe range.

Temperature Regulation

Your hypothalamus is a cone-shaped area in your brain. It secretes hormones that regulate many of your body systems. One of these systems is your body temperature. The hypothalamus works as a thermostat for your body. Receptors in your body continually send messages to the hypothalamus about your temperature. Adjustments are made to keep your body temperature between 97.5 and 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Exercise and Body Temperature

Your muscles quickly deplete stored energy when you start exercising. To make more energy, muscles combine oxygen with ATP. This process creates heat energy as a byproduct. Extra heat raises your body temperature, so your body needs to eliminate heat as quickly as possible. Temperature sensors tell the hypothalamus your body temperature is increasing, and something needs to lower it.

Maintaining Body Temperature

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During exercise, extra blood flows to your muscles to keep them going. When your body temperature starts to elevate, extra blood flows to your skin, so evaporation, or sweat, can help cool you off. Blood flow diverted from other organs, such as the kidney and liver, allows more blood to flow to your skin surface. Some of the extra heat picked up in the circulatory system is eliminated by respiration as you breathe out heated air.

Environment, Exercise and Body Temperature

When you exercise in a climate-controlled environment, like your gym, your hypothalamus keeps your body temperature at a safe level. If you exercise in hot, humid conditions, evaporation is less likely to cool you down effectively. When you work out in water, body heat is transferred to the water, and removed. If you swim in a hot pool, this is less efficient. Watch for signs of overheating when exercising in hot, humid conditions. Signs include weakness, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting. These are all signals that your body temperature is too high to continue exercising.

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