Maintaining Your Temperature Balance

PolarSwimmer_450x400When you are healthy, your inner core temperature (torso temperature) remains almost constant at 98.6 degrees F/37 degrees C. Since your limbs and head have less protective body tissue than your torso, their temperatures vary and may not reach core temperature.

Your body has a control system that lets it react to temperature extremes to maintain a temperature balance. There are three main factors that affect this temperature balance:

Heat production. The difference between the body’s core temperature and the environment’s temperature governs the heat production rate.  Shivering causes the body to produce heat. It also causes fatigue that, in turn, leads to a drop in body temperature.

Heat loss. Your body can get rid of heat better than it can produce it. Air movement around your body affects heat loss. It has been calculated that a naked man exposed to still air at or about 0 degrees C can maintain a heat balance if he shivers as hard as he can. However, he can’t shiver forever. It has also been calculated that a man at rest wearing the maximum arctic clothing in a cold environment can keep his internal heat balance during temperatures well below freezing. To withstand really cold conditions for any length of time, however, he will have to become active or shiver.

Evaporation.  Sweating helps to control your heat balance. Maximum sweating will get rid of heat about as fast as maximum exertion produces it.

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