Local News

Proper Hydration Important When Exercising In Hot Weather

Posted July 20, 2006 8:25 a.m. EDT

— Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can strike anyone who exercises in the heat and humidity of July and August. That's why many sports coaches take special precautions to make sure the heat doesn't take a toll.

For example, to beat the heat, summer-conditioning drills begin early in the morning. For Millbrook High School's football players, it is 7 a.m.

The players also get regular drink breaks to stay hydrated, but real thirst is actually a warning sign, said Michael Sharp, a sports performance specialist with Raleigh's Athletic Performance Center.

"The thirst mechanism is not a good indicator," Sharp said. "By the time you get thirsty, you're typically already dehydrated."

Sharp said proper hydration begins the night before exercise and includes rehydrating the body about 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.

Mid-day drills inside a climate-controlled facility also help athletes improve their endurance when they perform outdoors.

Sharp said that for people who are not used to North Carolina's heat, a full-scale workout under the sun is dangerous.

"The biggest thing that people need to realize is that it takes about 10 to 14 days to climatize to the heat," Sharp said.

Millbrook High School quarterback Cleo Cooper said he is used to the heat as long as he stays hydrated, which means consuming water or sports drinks.

That's what he preaches to his teammates.

"I just tell them they need to really go home, relax, stay away from sodas and iced tea," Cooper said. "That stuff's not good for you."

Caffeine in sodas and iced tea acts as a diuretic and removes fluid from the body. So does alcohol.

Other symptoms of heat exhaustion can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. Medical professionals recommend getting out of the sun and drinking water if a person experiences any of those symptoms.