Effect of lowered muscle temperature on the physiological response to exercise in men

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1991;63(5):387-92. doi: 10.1007/BF00364467.


The effect of low muscle temperature on the response to dynamic exercise was studied in six healthy men who performed 42 min of exercise on a cycle ergometer at an intensity of 70% of their maximal O2 uptake. Experiments were performed under control conditions, i.e. from rest at room temperature, and following 45 min standing with legs immersed in a water bath at 12 degrees C. The water bath reduced quadriceps muscle temperature (at 3 cm depth) from 36.4 (SD 0.5) degrees C to 30.5 (SD 1.7) degrees C. Following cooling, exercise heart rate was initially lower, the mean difference ranged from 13 (SD 4) beats.min-1 after 6 min of exercise, to 4 (SD 2) beats.min-1 after 24 min of exercise. Steady-state oxygen uptake was consistently higher (0.2 l.min-1). However, no difference could be discerned in the kinetics of oxygen uptake at the onset of exercise. During exercise after cooling a significantly higher peak value was found for the blood lactate concentration compared to that under control conditions. The peak values were both reached after approximately 9 min of exercise. After 42 min of exercise the blood lactate concentrations did not differ significantly, indicating a faster rate of removal during exercise after cooling. We interpreted these observations as reflecting a relatively higher level of muscle hypoxia at the onset of exercise as a consequence of a cold-induced vasoconstriction. The elevated steady-state oxygen uptake may in part have been accounted for by the energetic costs of removal of the extra lactate released into the blood consequent upon initial tissue hypoxia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Rest / physiology
  • Vasoconstriction / physiology


  • Lactates