Does Working Out Raise Your Body Temperature?

The human body temperature is controlled by a small portion of the brain called as the hypothalamus.(1) The hypothalamus is a cone shaped area that controls hormonal levels and also plays the role of a thermostat for the body. There are different temperature receptors in the body which send signals to the hypothalamus which in turn controls the body temperature.(1) The normal body temperature is generally maintained between 97.5 to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Any fluctuation beyond these numbers is controlled by sweating or radiating heat to bring about a balance.

Does Working Out Raise Your Body Temperature?

The human body temperature tends to increase after any form of exercise. This can be indulging in anything physically active or working out. It is not uncommon to notice sweating or hot breaths after working out. When we work out, our muscles require constant flow of energy. While this energy is being created by the muscles, the body generates heat.(2) As a result of this heat generation, the hypothalamus responds to regulate the temperature within normal limits. The 2 most common mechanisms to control the body temperature are through perspiration and respiration.(1, 2)

What Makes The Body Temperature To Increase When Working Out?

As we exercise, our body tends to deplete the stored energy. With more exercise the demand for energy increases and the body starts creating energy by combining oxygen with ATP or Adenosine Triphosphate.(2, 3) This results on creation of heat (a form of energy). Studies have shown that majority of heat is created by muscles which is noted in runners who tend to have increased heat around their calf muscles rather than their arms after running as their legs do most of the work while running.(4)

However, this excess heat is not good for the body and the excess heat needs to be eliminated for normal functioning of the body. This is where the hypothalamus comes into action and helps in reducing the heat through sweating or radiation.

Radiation:

As we exercise, the heat generated by the muscles warms up the blood. The heated blood, which supplies nutrients to the muscles and carries out the waste and toxic material from the muscles, is pushed towards the surface of the skin. The capillaries near the surface of the skin opens up causing blood rush to the skin. This is controlled by a chemical called as acetylcholine that is regulated by the hypothalamus.(5) This causes the surface of the body to be warmer than the core of the body. The heat from the surface of the body is radiated into the surrounding environment causing overall cooling of the body.

Sweating:

Another mechanism to reduce the heat post working out is through sweating. As the temperature receptors sends signals to the hypothalamus, its responds by signalling the sweat glands to secrete sweat.(6) The sweat is released on the surface of the skin through the pores. As the sweat evaporates, it cools the body thus bringing down the temperature. This mechanism can be a bit challenging in humid weather, as the evaporation of sweat will be very slow.(5, 6) In such conditions the body mainly depends on radiation for lowering the body temperature.

Conclusion

It is very normal for the body temperature to increase during working out. The body temperature regulation is done through radiation and sweating and these two mechanisms must operate absolutely well in order to bring the body temperature back to normal. It is important to help the body in balancing the temperature by having adequate water or electrolyte rich drink to stay hydrated.(5)

References:

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