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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Heat Awareness During Activity

Heatstroke and heat exhaustion is preventable if the proper precautions are taken.  Have water available at all times and to allow the athlete and officials to drink water whenever he/she needs it.  Never restrict the amount of water an athlete drinks, and be sure the athletes are drinking the water. Schools encouraged to take breaks during the periods and/or move start time to cooler periods of the day. 

In addition, allow time for young athletes to adapt to the weather and provide rest more often.  Progressive acclimatization is critical.  Provide for gradual increases in frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity. The key is recovery.  Also, remove equipment during rest periods and change to dry shirts.

    • Thermoregulation depends primarily on the evaporation of sweat to dissipate the heat produced by exercise.
    • Predisposing factors that increase an athlete’s risk for heat illness include: dehydration, heat acclimatization, clothing/equipment, fitness level, recent or current illness, medication use, obesity, age and prior heat illness.
    • Prevention of heat illness includes designing an environmental action plan, modifying activity time (including intensity and duration) and increasing frequency and length of rest periods, providing and monitoring adequate hydration, minimizing clothing and equipment, ensuring adequate heat acclimatization, early recognition of signs and symptoms and appropriate sports medicine care.

Heat illness is the leading cause of preventable death in high school athletes. These heat stroke deaths mainly occur in the summer months, at the beginning of conditioning for fall sports. Heat production during intense exercise is 15 to 20 times greater than at rest and can raise body core temperature one to two degrees Fahrenheit every five minutes unless heat is dissipated.

In order for an athlete to perform at an optimal level, close attention must be paid to the body’s water and electrolyte levels. With many athletes focusing on specific aspects of their sport, along with the outcome of the event, many neglect the need for fluid replacement during activity. Many athletic events pose a challenge (e.g., very little rest) for the athlete to maintain optimal fluid levels, so it is important for athletes to have water or a sports drink close at hand in order to avoid poor performance or other detrimental physiological effects due to dehydration.  Click for more Information.

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