By Scott Allyn, certified athletic trainer, Sentara Sports Medicine Network
Hampton Roads is known for its heat and humidity. Recent temperatures have been in the 90s with a heat index –what it “feels like” to your body— reaching 105 degrees F some days.
Your body’s natural cooling system relies on water. As you sweat, it evaporates from the skin and your body is cooled. When the humidity is high, evaporation is slower and an athlete runs the risk of overheating. What does this mean for athletes?Heat Acclimatization
One way to improve your performance in hot environments is to acclimate your body to the heat. Heat acclimation is a way of training your body to increase its sweat rate, decrease the amount of salt produced in sweat, and limit the time it takes to begin sweating. Most experts agree that beginning this process 10 to 14 days in advance of a competition is ideal. However, information also shows that only a few one hour sessions of moderate exercise in the heat will produce results. Studies show that athletes who acclimate themselves—especially while exercising – can lower their heart rate, core and skin temperature and improve their sweat rate.
As your body is trained to sweat more in a shorter time, athletes will need to consume more Gatorade or water before, during, and after play to stay hydrated and cool.
5 Tips for Beating the Summer Heat
1- Get Acclimated. For athletes visiting a hot area to compete, follow a process to get your body used to the heat over time. Even several days of acclimation will show results.
2 - Drink before you’re thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
3- Bottom’s up. Continue drinking as you sweat. Your body’s cooling system relies on proper hydration and sweat to cool its core temperature.
4- Keep it Light. Wear light colored and loose fitting clothing to keep your body cooler. White and light colors reflect heat.
5 – Run for cover. Cooling off in the shade will give your body a chance to recover from exertion.
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