Each summer, you hear news about a sports player being rushed to the hospital or passing out because the heat was just too much. Our bodies were not meant to be outside in the heat for long periods of time, so when it gets really hot this summer, be careful about playing sports or doing other activities outside. If you follow some basic safety tips, you’ll be safe and happy playing outside, for years to come.
This is the first thing that everyone says when it is hot outside, but drinking water is crucial to your health in the heat. While sports drinks like Gatorade are great for athletes because they replenish electrolytes, they are so sugary that they will actually dehydrate you more. Drink a few bottles of water for every bottle of sports drink you intake. This will ensure that you are getting your electrolytes, but also that you are well hydrated. Also, stay away from caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, and will therefore dehydrate you even more. Don’t drink soda, coffee, or iced tea when you’re playing outside, and for a few hours after you get inside too. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you aren’t using the restroom every two hours, you aren’t drinking enough water.
While it might seem like a good idea to push yourself to impress your coaches, they don’t want you injured any more than you want that to happen. Be sure to take ample breaks to let your body rest and to drink fluids. If you feel that your coach isn’t letting you take enough breaks in the heat, don’t wait until you feel awful to march to the sidelines. Once you feel bad, it’s usually too late. Just be honest with your coach when you need breaks. He’ll understand.
Don’t Sit in the Sun
When you do have a break, don’t sit in the sun. With the sun beating on you, you’ll only heat up and sweat more. Try to grab a seat in the shade under a tree, or even better, go indoors for a little while. Cooling yourself down can help you stay active longer.
Know the Signs
The signs of dehydration can be tough to recognize. They include a dry or sticky mouth, exhaustion, dry skin, headache, and dizziness. Signs of extreme or severe dehydration include confusion, shriveled skin, rapid heartbeat and breathing, and a fever. You might not always feel thirsty, so watch out for the signs of dehydration, and get yourself into the shade and get some water before it gets worse.
The earlier in the day you start your workout or practice, the cooler it will be. It might not be fun to get out of bed that early, but if you can start practice before the sun comes up, you have a few good hours to practice in the cool hours of the morning. Also, the earlier you practice, the earlier you can be done, which gives you some good recovery time when the heat gets bad in the afternoon. If you need more practice time, a good idea is to take a break when the heat is bad and come back to the field later in the evening, when the sun is setting. Just remember your bug spray; mosquitoes love it during the dawn and dusk hours.
Watch What You Eat
Eating foods that are high in water content - like fruits and vegetables, can help you intake more water. Eating foods that are high in starches and carbohydrates might give you energy, but they’ll soak up the water too, so get a good balance in your diet.