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The cardiovascular challenge of exercising in the heat

Authors

  • José González-Alonso,

    1. Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH, UK
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  • Craig G. Crandall,

    1. Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, 7232 Greenville Ave., Dallas TX 75231 and Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5232 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TX 75390, USA
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  • John M. Johnson

    1. Department of Physiology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA
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Corresponding author J. González-Alonso: Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH, UK. Email: j.gonzalez-alonso@brunel.ac.uk

Abstract

Exercise in the heat can pose a severe challenge to human cardiovascular control, and thus the provision of oxygen to exercising muscles and vital organs, because of enhanced thermoregulatory demand for skin blood flow coupled with dehydration and hyperthermia. Cardiovascular strain, typified by reductions in cardiac output, skin and locomotor muscle blood flow and systemic and muscle oxygen delivery accompanies marked dehydration and hyperthermia during prolonged and intense exercise characteristic of many summer Olympic events. This review focuses on how the cardiovascular system is regulated when exercising in the heat and how restrictions in locomotor skeletal muscle and/or skin perfusion might limit athletic performance in hot environments.

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