Human heat balance during postexercise recovery: separating metabolic and nonthermal effects

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2008 May;294(5):R1586-92. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00717.2007. Epub 2008 Mar 12.


Previous studies report greater postexercise heat loss responses during active recovery relative to inactive recovery despite similar core temperatures between conditions. Differences have been ascribed to nonthermal factors influencing heat loss response control since elevations in metabolism during active recovery are assumed to be insufficient to change core temperature and modify heat loss responses. However, from a heat balance perspective, different rates of total heat loss with corresponding rates of metabolism are possible at any core temperature. Seven male volunteers cycled at 75% of Vo(2peak) in the Snellen whole body air calorimeter regulated at 25.0 degrees C, 30% relative humidity (RH), for 15 min followed by 30 min of active (AR) or inactive (IR) recovery. Relative to IR, a greater rate of metabolic heat production (M - W) during AR was paralleled by a greater rate of total heat loss (H(L)) and a greater local sweat rate, despite similar esophageal temperatures between conditions. At end-recovery, rate of body heat storage, that is, [(M - W) - H(L)] approached zero similarly in both conditions, with M - W and H(L) elevated during AR by 91 +/- 26 W and 93 +/- 25 W, respectively. Despite a higher M - W during AR, change in body heat content from calorimetry was similar between conditions due to a slower relative decrease in H(L) during AR, suggesting an influence of nonthermal factors. In conclusion, different levels of heat loss are possible at similar core temperatures during recovery modes of different metabolic rates. Evidence for nonthermal influences upon heat loss responses must therefore be sought after accounting for differences in heat production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Calorimetry
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Male
  • Metabolism / physiology*
  • Thermogenesis / physiology