Updated Wednesday December 23, 2015 by Cheryl Erickson.
Last year’s record-breaking heat wave posed unprecedented threats to the health of students. It is critically important that physical education teachers, coaches, band and drill team directors and all who supervise physical activity understand the risks to students who exercise in hot, humid conditions. The risk of suffering heat exhaustion or heat stroke significantly increases as temperatures reach 90qF with humidity as low as 20 percent.
Therefore, please review the following points as you develop your lesson plans and practice schedules.
- Start slowly, and take your time getting the kids “back in shape.” Even star athletes often return to school having lost the aerobic capacity they may have had at the close of last season.
- Advise students to wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes which allow air to cool the skin.
- Ensure that your students drink fluids even before they feel thirsty. Their awareness of thirst may lag behind their need for fluid. Always urge children to drink water before, during and after exercise.
- Children can become acclimated to hot weather exercise, but must be allowed to do so gradually. Students involved in moderate-tovigorous exercise daily will need 5-to-7 days to adjust to exercising in the heat. Those on more irregular exercise schedules will take longer to adapt.
- If students must exercise outside, they should begin with a 1-to-2 ratio of exercise to rest schedule. For instance, every five minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise should be followed by 10 minutes of rest and fluid replacement. Likewise, 10 minutes of exertion warrants 20 minutes of rest and fluid intake. As students adapt to the heat, gradually increase their exercise time as you decrease break time.
- Water is the best fluid for your body. However, fluids that contain no more than 7 percent sugar (sport drinks) also are acceptable.