The cardiovascular challenge of exercising in the heat

J Physiol. 2008 Jan 1;586(1):45-53. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2007.142158. Epub 2007 Sep 13.


Exercise in the heat can pose a severe challenge to human cardiovascular control, and thus the provision of oxygen to exercising muscles and vital organs, because of enhanced thermoregulatory demand for skin blood flow coupled with dehydration and hyperthermia. Cardiovascular strain, typified by reductions in cardiac output, skin and locomotor muscle blood flow and systemic and muscle oxygen delivery accompanies marked dehydration and hyperthermia during prolonged and intense exercise characteristic of many summer Olympic events. This review focuses on how the cardiovascular system is regulated when exercising in the heat and how restrictions in locomotor skeletal muscle and/or skin perfusion might limit athletic performance in hot environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Skin / blood supply