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Ben Torres's picture

Heat Illness and Outdoor Sports

It's hot out there! And just because you are in shape does not mean you are immune to heat illnesses, especially for high school athletes. According to the CDC, heat illness is the leading cause of death and disability for high school athletes in the US. So it is important to take the heat seriously. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your sports activity.
  2. Add more rest periods between activity.
  3. Make sure the athlete is adequately hydrated BEFORE the sporting activity. If you suspect the athlete is not properly hydrated, he/she will have an increased risk for heat illness.
  4. Dark urine indicates dehydration, urine should be clear.
  5. Make sure athletes have access to adequate hydration either with water or a carbohydrate sports drink like Gatorade. Sports drinks like Gatorade are great way to keep hydrated because it encourages a faster delivery of electrolytes to the body.

Finally, there is sweat loss. It is important to know that athletes vary significantly with regards to how much fluid they lose in the heat. That is why it's really hard to create a specific fluid intake protocol. As such, athletes should be taught to monitor their own sweat loss. If they notice they are sweating more than usual, additional intake of water or carbohydrate sports drink should be encouraged. You can also consult the National Athletic Trainer's Association, The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention or the Gatorade Sports Science Institute for additional information on preventing heat illness.

References

National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) offers Tips for Exercising Safely in the Heat, National Athletic Trainer's Association SSE #111

Assessing Hydration In The Laboratory and Field, Nina S. Stachenfeld, PhD, Gatorade Sports Science Institute

Heat Illness Among High School Athletes --- United States, 2005--2009, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

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