Thermoregulatory Responses During Exercise

Intense exercise may increase heat production within the body 10-fold or more, requiring large increases in skin blood flow and sweating to reestablish the body's heat balance. Although hot environments also elicit heat-dissipating responses, exercise ordinarily is responsible for the greatest demands on the thermoregulatory system for heat dissipation. Exercise provides an important example of how the thermoregulatory system responds to a disturbance in heat balance. In addition, exercise and thermoregulation impose competing demands on the circulatory system because exercise requires large increases in blood flow to exercising muscle, while the thermoregulatory responses to exercise require increases in skin blood flow. Muscle blood flow during exercise is several times as great as skin blood flow, but the increase in skin blood flow is responsible for disproportionately large demands on the cardiovascular system, as discussed below. Finally, if the water and electrolytes lost through sweating are not replaced, the resulting reduction in plasma volume will eventually create a further challenge to cardiovascular homeostasis.

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