Decrease in body insulation with exercise in cool water

PubMed Citation: 6485145
Abstract: Steady-state body insulation was measured in 7 healthy male subjects during rest and exercise for 3 h in water of 28 degrees C - 32 degrees C. At rest, maximal body insulation increased as a linear function of mean subcutaneous fat thickness by an amount approximately 4-fold what would be predicted from the physical insulation of fat alone. With arm plus leg exercise, body insulation declined as an exponential function of the exercise intensity, reaching approximately 25% of the resting value at work loads above VO2 = 1.2 liters.min-1. During exercise the relationship between overall body insulation and mean subcutaneous fat thickness was almost identical to that predicted from fat insulation and mean subcutaneous fat thickness was almost identical to that predicted from fat insulation alone. These results suggest that 75% of maximal body insulation in resting subjects is achieved by use of skeletal muscle as an insulative barrier and that the muscle component is increased with increasing fat thickness. This muscle insulation shell is lost during exercise. As a practical consequence, heat generated by muscular exercise in water colder than critical water temperature cannot offset cooling unless the exercise intensity is great.
Journal Issue & Number: Undersea Biomedical Research 11(2), 159-68. (1984)
Rights: Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc. (http://www.uhms.org )
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