By Christina | August 13, 2009
High school football started this week and kids are weathering brutal temperatures during “two a day” practices in full gear. Heat exhaustion, dehydration, and heat stroke are very serious problems that these athletes are facing that are potentially fatal. According to the Annual Survey of Football Injury Research, heat stroke kills youth and professional football players each year. Since 1995, 39 players have died from heat stroke.
These problems are not isolated to teenage football athletes. All of us that like to take our workouts outside in the punishing heat of summer should be mindful of the symptoms of heat related problems and take every precaution possible to prevent them from occurring.
Even exercising an hour outside is enough to cause serious health problems if you are not properly hydrated and prepared. When it comes to dehydration, waiting until you are thirsty is too late. Your body is already dehydrated at that stage. Make sure you drink well before you even start exercising and hydrate with a cup of water every half hour, if not more frequently. Some symptoms to watch out for heat exhaustion and heat stroke are nausea, cessation of sweating, headache, dizziness, and weakness.
The most important thing you can do is listen to your body. Stop exercising immediately if you are not feeling right. In intense temperatures, this is not a case of working through your pain or discomfort. But rather, this is a situation of avoiding a trip to the hospital and potentially saving your life.
Besides staying well hydrated, some other tips to keep in mind if you prefer exercising outside in this heat are to exercise early or later in the day when the sun is setting. If you are a runner, look for shadier routes that provide protection against the sun directly pounding down on you. Lightweight clothing in light colors are also recommended to keep you cooler.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to use common sense. Hydrate, minimize direct sun exposure, and adjust your workouts to how you feel. No one likes to exercise outside more than me. Nothing feels better than a hot, sweaty run. But if your runs leave you more than just feeling hot, you will be running to the nearest emergency room. Be careful.