With August temps being what they are, there is little chance of losing body heat while exercising. For those of us in four season areas, however, exercising in the cold presents some interesting challenges.
In a study published this month in Physiology & Behavior, research teams at the University of Tsukuba, led by Takeshi Nishiyasu, and at Niigata University of Health and Welfare, led by Tomomi Fujimoto, have found that, when exercising, people cannot perceive decreases in their core body temperature caused by the cold as well as they can when they are resting. This research has implications for recreational activities in colder climates, such as hiking and skiing.
Body temperature is maintained in several ways. Although your body subconsciously adjusts energy, fluid secretion, and blood flow to control heat loss through shivering, sweating, and dilation or constriction of blood vessels, a person’s conscious behavior—seeking shelter or relief when too hot or too cold—plays an important role in keeping the body’s core temperature within the narrow range required by its systems. “Both behavioral and autonomic thermoregulation depend on input from sensors located centrally and peripherally in the body,” notes Professor Nishiyasu.