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How Does Body Temperature Affect Metabolism?

As body temperature increases, so does metabolism. The two subjects become directly related in nearly every form of living, such as eating, sleeping and through exercise and physical exertion.

Body Temperature and Metabolism

When muscles work or become active, body temperature increases as a result of that action. Any action that takes place within the body requires the metabolism of calories, also known as food energy. From these two simple facts, we know that the more activity that happens in the body, the higher the body temperature will become, which ultimately requires an increase in the metabolism of more calories.

Types of Metabolism and Body Temperature

Most metabolizing in the body takes place during resting periods, also known as basal metabolism. A cold body temperature or becoming dehydrated decreases the chance of burning more calories. Basal metabolism includes all of the body’s natural functions required to sustain life. The basal metabolism of each individual differs because of their bodily functions, their health conditions and their body temperatures.

Through physical exercise, more calories become metabolized due to the increase in the body's temperature through working muscle tissue. Calories required for physical activity and exercise account for about half of those needed for basal metabolism. However, the amount of calories metabolized through exercise and muscle exertion increases the body's basal metabolism over time, and temporarily after workout sessions.

Through the consumption and digestion of food throughout the day, the body metabolizes another small portion of calories. This natural process, often referred to as the thermic effect, increases through the process of eating healthy foods and remaining active. Dehydration and excessively decreasing body temperature reduces the body's ability to digest food properly.

Muscle Demands

When exercising and through normal movement, body temperature gradually becomes warmer. Both muscle strengthening exercises and aerobic or cardiovascular activities increase body temperature and break down muscle tissue. In order for muscles to grow and repair broken down fibers, the muscle tissue requires calorie metabolism in order to carry out the functions. This continual process requires metabolism to occur nearly every hour of the day. Even during sleep, muscle groups continue to repair. Cold room temperatures or weather conditions often increase the metabolism of calories within the body, since the internal systems and muscle must try harder to keep warm in order to properly function, often through the process of shivering.

Body Temperature vs. External Temperature

The human body regulates internal temperature in order to maintain a steady rate in which normal functions occur. As mentioned above, during the winter or in a very cold room, a human will normally shiver. This natural process represents the body fighting in order to keep muscles warm and the body temperature stable. The direct opposite of this situation, when external temperatures become extremely hot or even warm, the body sweats in order to keep the body cool. This process does not increase metabolism and neither does shivering, simply because neither of the two raise or lower body temperature, but rather fight to maintain a stable rate.

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