General Tips for Exercising in the Heat from Dr. Marshall
General Tips for Exercising in the Heat
-Schedule workouts for the cooler times of the day.
-Allow overweight, out of shape or unacclimated kids time to acclimate to the heat.
-Schedule timed water and rest breaks every 30 minutes during activities. During
these breaks, don't just encourage, but require kids to drink. This also gives the coach
or trainer a chance to monitor the athletes.
-Have shade, ice, and a kiddie pool available for emergency treatment and rapid
cooling, if needed.
-Have a cell phone (with a charged battery) available at all workouts for emergency contact.
-Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at lest 15. Apply it 30 minutes before sun exposure and
every 20-30 minutes if sweating or swimming.
-Wear hats with brims and light colored, breathable clothing, if possible.
-Remember youth sports rules are not carved in stone and can be modified to increase
the safety of athletes. For example, soccer games can be divided into 4 quarters rather
than 2 halves to allow for more natural break for rest, hydration, and monitoring. Referees
can call an "official time out" for hydration periodically during the game, similar to
the "TV time out" seen in college and the professional sports.
Recognize the Early Signs of Heat Illness:
Dehydration and heat cramps
Thirst, fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness, muscle cramps, and loss of energy may be signs
of dehydration. The athlete should stop activity and drink water or a sports drink. Muscle cramps
can be stretched and lightly massaged. Resume activity with caution only when all symptoms
Dizziness, rapid pulse, headaches, nausea, vomiting, chills, and loss of coordination may be signs of
heat exhaustion. The athlete may be sweating profusely although the skin may be dry. Activity
should be discontinued and the athlete should be rehydrated. If the individual's level of
consciousness does not allow oral hydration, then they must be transported to a medical facility for
IV hydration. Core body temperature should be measured with a rectal probe. If this is not possible,
then the athlete should be transported to a medical facility for hydration and monitoring.
Confusion, irrational behavior, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and a dangerously high temperature
(104 and above) may be signs of heat stroke. This is a life-threatening medical emergency that
requiresrapid cooling by immersion In an ice bath. Ice bags on the neck, groin, and under the neck
may help if a bath is unavailable. 911 should be called immediately.
Remember that humidity plays a major role in thermoregulation in athletes both young and old. Be
aware of the heat index, a measure of environmental temperature and humidity. This can be
measured on the field with an instrument called a sling psychrometer, obtained from the weather
channel or located on the Internet. When the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the
humidity is 80%, the heat index is 115 degrees, which places athletes at risk of suffering a