Training during hot weather puts extra stress on your body and, if you don’t properly prepare, it can result in serious illness including heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Yet, the summer is an important time for young athletes to train and training during heat can actually produce a number of benefits. Benefits of exercising in heat include increasing athletes’ rate of perspiration and blood plasma volume, decreasing athletes’ overall core temperature, decreasing blood lactate and increasing skeletal muscle force.
As a result, summer training is both important and effective. Further, when done properly, it is safe and healthy. Here are some things you should know and keep in mind your child is training in the heat this summer.
Tips for Exercising in the Heat
While it’s important for your child to train and get lots of summer exercise, there are some precautions that you should take to ensure that she stays safe. Here’s a checklist to keep in mind before your child goes out in the heat:
- Avoid training in the hottest parts of the day. Unless your child is training for something that will take place in the heat, he should avoid working out in the heat from 10am to 3pm.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing
- Wear sunscreen
- Stay hydrated. Make sure your child drinks one to two glasses of water before going out; advise her to drink about every 15 minutes while outdoors; and then ensure that she drinks another one to two glasses after working out.
- Replenish electrolytes and salt while exercising
- Get acclimated. If you’re child’s not used to training in the heat, make sure that he gradually acclimates over the course of a couple of weeks before training at full intensity.
Warning Signs to Know
For many athletes, the hardest part of safely training in the heat is staying hydrated while also maintaining necessary electrolytes and salt. Excessive sweating can quickly lead to dehydration and a number of heat-related illnesses. One way to ensure that training in the heat is safe is to know the warning signs of dehydration and to educate your young athlete on these as well. Signs that your child is dehydrated or suffering from heat-related illnesses include:
- muscle cramps
- nausea or vomiting
- excessive sweating
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- low blood pressure
- increased heart rate
- visual problems
If your child experiences any of these symptoms, he or she should immediately lower his or her body temperature, hydrate and get out of the heat. If not addressed, these symptoms can worsen and lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which is a medical emergency.
When done correctly, training in the heat can be safe, productive and even fun for athletes. However, it’s always important that coaches and athletes take necessary precautions, allow plenty of breaks for hydration and are aware of dangerous warning signs. Summer is a great time for athletic training, so take the necessary precautions and then help your athlete enjoy summer training.