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Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1999 Feb;79(3):280-4.

Advantages of a smaller bodymass in humans when distance-running in warm, humid conditions.

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Medical Research Council/University, Cape Town Bionergetics of Exercise Research Unit, University of Cape Town Medical School, Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Newlands.


Using a 65-kg athlete running a 2 h 10 min marathon as an example, we estimated that imbalances between approximately 1400 W of heat production and dissipation would occur in ambient temperatures of 17 degrees C at 90% relative humidity (rh) to 37 degrees C at 50% rh. Because heat production during running depends on body mass and heat loss depends on surface area, intercepts between predicted heat production and maximal heat loss with increasing speeds depend on an athlete's body mass. At 35 degrees C and 60% rh, a 45-kg athlete could maintain thermal balance by running a 2 h 13 min marathon at 19.1 km x h(-1) but a 75-kg athlete would only be able run a 3 h 28 min marathon at 12.2 km x h(-1). In both cases, the production of 970-1020 W of heat would necessitate the evaporation of at least 1.5-1.6 l of sweat per hour. A lower metabolic heat production in lighter runners at any given speed may be one reason why smallness of stature is an asset in distance running.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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