Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Why You Feel Cold After Exercise

Today I will be tackling the reason why some people feel the chills after their workout. Not everybody feels this way. For example, I feel hot and need more time to cool down than others. If your body temperature drops, here are the reasons why.

Outsideonline.com says that you continue sweating after you exercise, even though your temperature starts to drop. They say that people with higher surface-to-mass ratios are more likely to be affected for this reason, compared to people who don't feel cold after exercise at all. For example, woman and skinny men are more likely to experience this feeling. Since muscle is more dense, people who have more muscle mass won't experience this sensation as much.

We have many other reasons below. Find which one is causing your own exercise-induced hypothermia.

Possible causes of feeling cold after working out 

1. Your aren't wearing warm enough clothes

Some people's body heat jumps up faster than others. I am one of those people. My body also takes longer to cool down. For that reason, I dress cooler than normal so that my body can start getting rid of the excess heat that it generates early into my workout. Just as some people heat up faster, there are some people whose bodies take longer to warm up from exercise. If your body takes longer to heat up, exercise won't warm you up as much as other people. You might even cool down faster than others, so that the last part of your exercise routine brings your body down to normal temperatures very quickly. Clothes have a big impact on your body's temperature. You will be surprised at the heat different between two pairs of shorts that have the same length, but have a different thread thickness.

This should determine the kind of clothes that you wear. For my body's reaction, I dress cooler - even if I am shivering at the beginning of my work out because I will start sweating very soon. You might need to dress warmer than the average Joe, and wearing the same as everybody else when your body does not heat up as much as the others will leave it exposed to the cold. This could be why you end up cold at the end of your exercise session.

If this is the cause, make sure that you dress more warmly. If your body is too cold during your workouts, it will draw blood towards your organs and core to keep them warm so that it can function properly. This will limit the amount of blood that reaches your muscles. Muscles need blood flow to get oxygen, nutrients and energy. They also need this blood flow to remove waste products like carbon monoxide and lactic acid. Lactic acid is the stuff that makes your muscles burn and causes stiffness the next day).

If you get hot too quickly, it is a good idea to dress in such a way that you don't overheat so much during your workout. Just like how getting too cold can negatively affect your performance and results, so can getting too hot during exercise. This will dehydrate you faster and over exert your body. It will spend energy trying to cool itself down. You should rather have this energy to dedicate to your performance instead of temperature regulation.

2. Overcompensation

Homeostasis is the process where your body corrects an issue to restore balance. Overcompensation happens when your body tries to correct something but takes it so far that you end up with the opposite effect. This is why some people can feel warm after a cold shower.

This study on homeostasis looks at many different studies, theories and effects of homeostasis. One of the effects analysed was overcompensation. Your body can overcompensate for the heat that exercise generates by trying to cool down as quickly as possible. If it ends up cooling you down more than what exercise heats you up, you can end up colder than when you started.

This might be the case for individuals who are subjected to sharp heat changes throughout their normal lives or are used to hot climates, because your body will be better at cooling itself down. It might also be possible if you are working out in an environment which is cooler than where you spend most of the rest of your day. Don't assume that this is the reason and ignore all the other important points below. It might be something more serious (like dehydration or low blood sugar). The truth, however, is that overcompensation is indeed a viable and common cause on its own.

If overcompensation is actually the cause, you can counter this through clothing. Bring a jersey or jacket with you and take it off/ put it on as your feel your body temperature pick up or drop. This will help to cool you when you heat up and warm you if you get too cold. Softening the sharp increases and decreases in body temperature during exercise will lessen the effects of overcompensation.

3. Dehydration

Livestrong.com says that hydration during (and even before) exercise plays a large role on how you feel post workout. Your body needs water to regulate temperature. If your body does not have the fluids that it needs, your body's core temperature can drop along with other symptoms (like cramps, dizziness and nausea). This is why paramedics quickly put blankets or jackets on patients who have lost a lot of blood. 

You cannot assess the amount of water you need from the amount that you sweat out. We often forget about trips to the bathroom and the air we exhale. Your lungs release water along with air when you breathe. Why else would your breath as steamy as it comes out your mouth on really cold days?

Have you ever noticed that your muscles look a little bigger straight after exercise? That's because they are. They have increased in size to accompany more blood for performance and recovery. This is one of the reasons why warming up is so beneficial. Muscle volume increases in response to exercise (even if the size increase isn't noticeable). This increases you need for hydration because a lot of the body's usual fluids are pulled into muscle, and out of circulation.

Water is not the only thing that you need to stay hydrated. You need electrolytes as well, which help the body to hold on to water. This is primarily how salt increases blood pressure. One of its main functions is to regulate the water levels in your body (along with the other electrolytes). More salt means that your body holds more water, which increases pressure (more fluids, less space).

If you don't have enough electrolytes, the water you drink will flow right through you instead of staying in the body where it is needed.  In fact, too much water consumption can lead to dehydration. You excrete sodium and other electrolytes (along with water soluble vitamins) in your pee when you use the toilet. Drinking too much water can wash away the electrolytes that are meant to help your body hold onto water. This can, ironically, lead to dehydration.

On the other extreme, however, too much electrolytes (like salt) with too little water can pull water out of your tissues and into your blood, increasing blood pressure but possibly causing muscle dehydration. This is why so many people suffer from high blood pressure: too much salt and not enough water.

That is precisely the reason why many bodybuilders drink lots of water to intentionally dehydrate their bodies, so that muscles are more visible during bodybuilding competitions. It is one of the common ways that many bodybuilders prepare to look their best on stage.

What is the moral of the story? Balance is the key.

Try adding electrolytes to your workout drink to hydrate more efficiently or changing your hydration habits to find the best results. The solution to your exercise shivers might be as simple as that. Furthermore, if dehydration is the cause of your fitness frost then solving it will increase your overall performance and recovery.

4. Weather

The weather might be the reason that you are suffering from your workout chills. Humidity greatly impacts your body temperature, and so does the lack of it. If you live in a hot environment, your body might be extremely good at cooling you down. Winter weather could be cooling you down more than your physical activity heats you up. Moisture on your clothes from rain, if you exercise outside, can drastically drop your core temperature.

If you exercise in the cooler temperatures, increase the amount of clothing to keep warm. Your clothing might be heavier, but the increase in performance that you will experience from better warmth will outweigh those extra layers.

5. Sweat

Sweat's primary function is to cool down the body. See the other benefits of sweat here. It is surprisingly good at keeping your body temperature low. If sweat is making your clothes wet, this might be making your colder than you realize.

If sweat is the culprit behind your freezing frenzy, try to adjust your clothing so that sweat deposits can evaporate instead of sticking around. The airflow during the heated times when you sweat will also help to cool you down, so that you will sweat less. Carry something warm with you for the end of the workout when the chills are more likely to show up.

6. Low blood sugar

Low blood sugar (known as hypoglycemia) can make you cold. A common symptom to identify low blood sugar is when you feel cold in your hands and feet (although this can be from poor circulation and the weather as well). The risk of low blood sugar from exercise is increased when you don't eat enough before your workout. If you work out first thing in the morning, the length of time and what you eat the night before will affect this. If you exercise at night, your diet throughout the day has the biggest effect.

You can combat low blood sugar by eating complex carbohydrates before your workout. Complex carbohydrates take longer to turn into energy and will therefore stabilize your sugar levels for longer. Eating more protein throughout the day will stabilize your overall blood sugar levels, so that they won't drastically increase or decrease as quickly.

Another risk factor for low blood sugar after exercise is the length of time that you train for. Longer periods of physical training have a higher impact on blood sugar because your body is burning glycogen stores for energy. These glycogen stores take sugar out of your blood to replenish energy. Exercise also stresses the liver. In the long term, this is good for your liver because it adapts by getting stronger and more efficient. Exercise that lasts too long, though, decreases the liver's current ability to regulate blood sugar.

7. Lack of rest

If you are not getting enough rest, too much exercise can over train your central nervous system along with the rest of your body. This is the most likely case if you are feeling colder and colder after every workout, even though there aren't any other changes that could be causing it.

When you over train, your body starts to break down and fail to maintain its normal mechanisms, like regulating temperature. This is also the reason why many people experience flu-like symptoms or get depressed when they exercise.

If over training is causing your drop in body temperature after exercise, take a few days off to recover and allow your body to re-optimize. You will come back even stronger than before. Here are ways to get the best recovery out of your rest days.

8. Warming up and cooling down

If you aren't warming up or cooling down correctly, this could be the reason why you get so cold after exercise.

When you don't warm up and jump straight into intense exercise, your body gets a fright and pushes too much blood into your muscles. When too much blood is shifted too quickly, your body temperature can drop because there the warmth that the blood carries is shifted away from your core. Intense exercise can also increase your body temperature very sharply, instead of gradually through a warm up. A sharp increase in temperature will cause your body to over compensate (read above) to return things to normal.

A proper cool down is also essential for temperature regulation, along with other key benefits. It prevents your body from dropping the warmth that exercise creates all in one go. Cooling down also stops your blood from pooling in one place, which can also make you cold from working out. As discussed earlier, blood volumes increase in the muscles when they are exercised. A cool down assists to circulate the blood back to the rest of the body after the muscles have down their job. This blood brings warmth with it, along with the waste products that need to exit your muscles. Since blood is regulated, fresh blood can get into the muscles. This fresh blood brings the new nutrients that the muscles need.

Lack of proper warm ups reduce performance, and cooling down after exercise will enhance recovery.

If any of these solutions helped you, please let me know in the comments below. STAY STRONG!