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Int J Hyperthermia. 2018;35(1):644-651. doi: 10.1080/02656736.2018.1516303. Epub 2018 Oct 10.

Whole body heat exposure modulates acute glucose metabolism.

International journal of hyperthermia : the official journal of European Society for Hyperthermic Oncology, North American Hyperthermia Group

Amy L Kimball, Patrick M McCue, Michael A Petrie, Richard K Shields


  1. a Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, Carver College of Medicine , The University of Iowa , Iowa City , IA , USA.

PMID: 30303421 DOI: 10.1080/02656736.2018.1516303


AIM: Exercise modulates glucose tolerance and homeostasis in both healthy and diabetic individuals. Heat stress is a fundamental element of exercise. The acute glycemic response and alterations in glucose clearance following whole body passive heat stress in the absence of muscle activity has yet to be examined in humans. Knowledge of this relationship may prove useful, particularly in populations with compromised glucoregulation from reduced activity.

PURPOSE: To determine insulin/glucose levels before and after an acute bout of heat stress in healthy, lean individuals and examine the effects of whole body heat stress (WBHS) and exercise on acute glucose tolerance in an expanded cohort.

METHODS: Ten subjects (24.1 ± 0.7 years) participated in a randomized control/WBHS session (up to 30 minutes at 73 °C) with fasting glucose (FG) and insulin drawn at baseline, immediately after and 30 minutes post heat stress. In the follow-up experiment, 20 anthropometrically diverse subjects (24.6 ± 2.1 years) underwent an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) under the conditions above.

RESULTS: FG levels rose 10% immediately following heat stress (8.6 (±5.6) mg/dl, p < .01) and returned to near baseline levels 30 minutes following WBHS. Insulin release showed its greatest increase at 30 minutes post WBHS (2.7 ± 3.5) uU/ml p < .05). WBHS resulted in a decrease in glucose uptake [AUC increased 8.2% (1430.6 ± 1957.03) mg/dl (p = .005)], particularly in nonlean individuals.

CONCLUSION: WBHS modulates physiologic markers of metabolism. An acute bout of WBHS increases glucose and insulin levels in healthy individual and decreases glucose uptake in response to a glucose challenge, particularly those who are non-lean.

Keywords: Whole body heat stress; glucose; glucose metabolism; insulin


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