Health Watch -- Hot-weather Exercise

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Don't let the heat flatten your team before your opponents have the chance to.

In many parts of the country, pre-season football practice has begun for high school athletes, and their most dangerous opponent isn't their crosstown rivals. Heat during an intense workout can flatten you faster than a flying tackle. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say heat-related injuries can be prevented, though.

The key is hydration - getting enough fluids to replace fluid lost through sweat. Exercise experts at UT Southwestern say that for shorter workouts, ordinary water is fine for hydration if you have a normal amount of salt in your diet. A sports drink may be necessary for longer, more-intense workouts or if you eat a low-salt diet.

You can't go by how thirsty you feel. You should drink water before you feel thirsty, and you shouldn't stop drinking water when you no longer feel thirsty. Drinking just until you feel satisfied won't adequately replace the fluids you've lost during the workout. It's important to drink water before, during and after a workout done in heat.

Players should get used to the heat by walking or running without helmets and pads, which block sweat, before they start a full workout in all the football gear.

Even if you're not involved in grueling football practices, if you exercise in the heat, be sure to keep yourself hydrated and take a break if you feel dizzy, weak or develop a headache.


Aug. 2004

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