Heat loss from the human head during exercise

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1991 Aug;71(2):590-5. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1991.71.2.590.


Evaporative and convective heat loss from head skin and expired air were measured in four male subjects at rest and during incremental exercise at 5, 15, and 25 degrees C ambient temperature (Ta) to verify whether the head can function as a heat sink for selective brain cooling. The heat losses were measured with an open-circuit method. At rest the heat loss from head skin and expired air decreased with increasing Ta from 69 +/- 5 and 37 +/- 18 (SE) W (5 degrees C) to 44 +/- 25 and 26 +/- 7 W (25 degrees C). At a work load of 150 W the heat loss tended to increase with increasing Ta: 119 +/- 21 (head skin) and 82 +/- 5 W (respiratory tract) at 5 degrees C Ta to 132 +/- 27 and 103 +/- 12 W at 25 degrees C Ta. Heat loss was always higher from the head surface than from the respiratory tract. The heat losses, separately and together (total), were highly correlated to the increasing esophageal temperature at 15 and 25 degrees C Ta. At 5 degrees C Ta on correlation occurred. The results showed that the heat loss from the head was larger than the heat brought to the brain by the arterial blood during hyperthermia, estimated to be 45 W per 1 degree C increase above normal temperature, plus the heat produced by the brain, estimated to be up to 20 W. The total heat to be lost is therefore approximately 65 W during a mild hyperthermia (+1 degrees C) if brain temperature is to remain constant.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Esophagus / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Head / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena
  • Temperature
  • Tympanic Membrane / physiology