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signal for heat loss by the thermoregulatory effector responses of sweating and alterations in skin blood flow (Sawka and Wenger, 1988).

This chapter reviews human temperature regulation and normal physiological responses to exercise-heat stress. In general, muscular exercise and heat stress interact synergistically and may push physiological systems to their limits in simultaneously supporting the competing metabolic and thermoregulatory demands.


During muscular exercise, core temperature initially increases rapidly and subsequently increases at a reduced rate until heat loss equals heat production, and essentially steady-state values are achieved. At the initiation of exercise, the metabolic rate increases immediately; however, the thermoregulatory effector responses for heat dissipation respond more slowly. The thermoregulatory effector responses, which enable sensible (radiative and convective) and insensible (evaporative) heat loss to occur, increase in proportion to the rise in core temperature. Eventually, these heat loss mechanisms increase sufficiently to balance metabolic heat production, allowing achievement of a steady-state core temperature.

During muscular exercise, the magnitude of core temperature elevation is largely independent of the environmental condition and is proportional to the metabolic rate (Gonzalez et al., 1978; Nielsen, 1938, 1970). This concept was first presented by Nielsen (1938) who had three subjects perform exercise at several intensities (up to approximately 3.0 liters oxygen per minute) in a broad temperature range (5° to 36°C with low humidity). Figure 3-1 presents the heat exchange data for one subject during an hour of cycle exercise at a power output of 147 watts and at a metabolic rate of approximately 650 watts. The difference between metabolic rate and total heat loss represents the energy used for mechanical work and heat storage. The total heat loss and, therefore, the heat storage and elevation of core temperature were constant for each environment. The relative contributions of sensible and insensible heat exchange to total heat loss, however, varied with environmental conditions. In the 10°C environment, the large skin-to-ambient temperature gradient facilitated sensible heat exchange, which accounted for about 70 percent of the total heat loss. As ambient temperature increased, this gradient for sensible heat exchange diminished, and there was a greater reliance upon insensible heat exchange. When the ambient temperature was equal to skin temperature, insensible heat exchange accounted for almost all the heat loss. In addition, when the ambient temperature exceeded the skin temperature, there was a sensible heat gain to the body.

Nielsen's finding that the magnitude of core temperature elevation is

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