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Student Athletes Risk Health by Exercising in Unprecedented Heat

The heat wave on the week of Sept. 5 was almost unbearable for students walking to class in the morning, let alone for sports teams practicing in triple digit temperatures during the hottest hours of the day.

Fortunately for Jehan Fernando, cross country practice was moved to 5:30 p.m., lessening the brutal sun rays’ impact on his performance. He was also taking a slower pace during his runs, his workouts were split in half, and there were more frequent water breaks. Despite these modifications, heat exhaustion and dehydration was inevitable for those who didn’t adequately prepare themselves physically and mentally.

Fernando expressed empathy for athletes in other sports that week, saying, “I think at a certain point, no matter what preparation you do, it’s just not healthy for you to be outside, especially in sports like football and tennis where you have courts that are ten degrees hotter and insulating equipment you have to wear.”

This doesn’t mean skipping training should be encouraged; after all, practices are for athletes to build up their strength and perseverance for competitions. However, if an athlete is showing signs of heat exhaustion, like dizziness, abnormally heavy sweating, nausea, and muscle weakness, they should prioritize their health and safety above all else.

A principle that should be implemented during heat waves is educating athletes about the importance of hydration, the symptoms of heat stress, and the dangers of heatstroke. Coaches could sit down with their team for five minutes to encourage proper hydration/nutrition and spread awareness about the risks of not preparing adequately.

The more knowledgeable athletes are, the more prepared they can be in emergency situations and the more aware they are of their own bodies in the context of extreme weather. Awareness alone can prevent many serious side effects of the excessive heat.


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