Heat Acclimatization Tips For Student-Athletes

Many thanks to Greg Wagner as he researches helpful information regarding Heat Acclimatization tips for students as they prepart for the upcoming Fall sports season.
HEAT ACCLIMATIZATION 
Tips that our student athletes can take PRIOR to the pre season.
What is Heart Acclimatization or Acclimatization?  It is a broad term that can be loosely defined as a complex series of changes or adaptations that occur in response to heat stress in a controlled environment over the course of 7 to 14 days.  These adaptations are beneficial to exercise in the heat and allow the body to better cope with heat stress.  Heat Acclimatization describes the same process, but happens in a natural environment.
Positive Adaptions that occur include REDUCTIONS in:
    • Heart Rate
    • Body Temperature Response
    • Skin Temperature Response
    • Perceived Exertion
As well as INCREASES in:
    • Sweat rate
    • Sweat onset (sweating starts earlier)
    • Heart Function/Blood distribution
    • Overall ability to Perform in the Heat
Other changes include decreased salt losses in sweat and urine as well as improved blood pressure response.  All of these changes improve an athletes’ ability to handle heat stress during exercise.
When preparing to acclimatize to the heat, athletes should gain a base level of fitness in a cooler environment prior to heat exposure.  Fit individuals already have some of the physical advantages that are gained with acclimation, for example, an increased sweat rate.
HEAT ACCLIMATIZATION TIPS:
  • Do not exercise more that 3 hours in one day
  • Be properly hydrated before, during and after exercise
  • Gradually increase the intensity of exercise over the course of a few days
  • Increase the amount of sodium in your diet for a few days to make up for sweat salt loss
  • Avoid working out while sick
  • Have cooling methods available (ice towels,etc)
  • Take frequent breaks to avoid your body from overheating
  • Get plenty of sleep nights before working out
REFERENCES
  • Casa DJ, Csillan D. Preseason Heat-Acclimatization Guidelines for Secondary School Athletics.  J Athl Train. 2009; 44(3);332-333.
  • Korey Stringer Institute, University of Connecticut