Ability to Perform in the Heat

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

Summer is around the corner. The temperatures have already struck 90 degrees. Many people struggle in the heat to exercise but what is it that causes someone to be so affected by the heat.

Normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees. As a person exercises, many enzymatic processes occur within the
body. The body heats up and can affect such processes. There needs to be an ability of the body to create energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). It is in the mitochondria of the cell where energy is created and thus the
mitochondria is considered the powerhouse of the cell.

Mitochondria produce energy and this energy is used in the contraction of muscle. Cells that have high energy tend to have more mitochondria. Thus the more mitochondria the more chance that the body can create this energy.

There is much literature available in regards to muscle building and muscular efficiency. These methods vary depending upon the goals that want to be achieved. In all methods, with muscular contractions, a common deterrent that can cause muscle fatigue is the production of heat.

Research has shown that heating a muscle too much decreases the ability of a muscle to keep contracting. Overall, performing multiple sets of an exercise has been done in order for a muscle to recover and perform once again.
Newer research has shown cooling the body can be best achieved by cooling the soles of the feet, the face, and the palm
of the hand.

Cooling the palm of the hand allows for the cooler blood to reach the heart and thus keep the organs from
overheating. This allows for muscles to recover quicker and perform. It has been proven that cooling the hands in between sets of exercises has been an effective way to perform more reps of an exercise and thus create more strength and power over weeks of exercising.

The coolness is key, especially performing exercises in the summer in Florida. Cooling glove machines exist but if these
are not available, consider trying to cool the hands during and between exercise sets. This cooling has been done for 1-2
minutes which seems to cool the body down and allow for better performance. Maybe trying to cool the hands with cold bottles could be an effective method. Try to help yourself by considering ways to help keep the body heat under control.

It is worth experimenting with ways to help yourself. The thought, however, is not applying ice because ice may actually constrict and send the wrong messages.

Cool the hands which gets the cooler blood back to the heart. Be smart exercising in the warmer months. Make sure water intake is optimal and listen to your body. Even add foods that have a cooling effect such as cucumbers, watermelon, and mint.

Happy Exercising!

Here’s To Your Health!

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