When it gets hot, it's the bodies natural reaction to sweat to cool itself and those fluids have to be replaced.
For high school athletes, the summer months are no longer a time away from training, away from the sport of their choice.
Instead, that's when the conditioning is the hardest so that when the season hits, they're already prepared.
It's not without risks, however, because no matter what the sport training in summer heat can create health problems.
Combating the summer heat while training is on every coach's mind.
"We talk about it on a regular basis. We talk about it in groups. We talk about it one on one," said Marietta cross country coach Dale Leeper.
Tips for exercising
safely in the summer
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.
- Eat a salty snack like pretzels to replace sodium.
- Wear light clothing.
- Exercise before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m.
- Take breaks, recommended is 10 minutes per half hour of exercise.
- Reduce the amount of clothing covering the body.
- Exercise in the shade when possible.
Source: Ohio High School Athletic Association and Kemery Sigmund, head athletic trainer at Marietta College.
The best method to combat the loss of fluids during exercise over the summer months is to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
Drinking plenty of water before exercising is equally as important, and perhaps more important, than the fluid intake during exercise because it takes time for fluids to reach the body's organs.
"I think it (hydrating early) is important. I remind my kids that for an average person it really takes about 30 minutes for fluid to get into the gut and through the gut and into your bloodstream. We talk about drinking early," Leeper said.
Getting fluids into the body prior to exercising helps keep the body well hydrated during exercise and helps prevent heat illnesses because it's easier to stay hydrated than to rehydrate.
"Once you get thirsty, that's the first sign. That's the first sign of dehydration. It sounds a little silly, but you should never really be thirsty," said Kemery Sigmund, head athletic trainer and assistant professor of sports medicine at Marietta College.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association recently released its guidelines for heat stress and athletic participation over the summer months and concerns for the safety of athletes remain, even though the official start to practices isn't until August for most fall sports.
"I applaud Ohio High School for pushing the issue, and I think rightly so. We've certainly had a series of incidents, principally with football players," Leeper said.
Football has drawn the heaviest concerns, especially since NFL players like the Vikings Korey Stringer have died from heat stroke in recent years.
The addition of several pounds worth of equipment complicates the risks of heat related illnesses for football players, but they're not the only ones at risk or that are tugging around extra weight.
Even golf players have some extra luggage.
"When you're carrying your bag around and you're in the sun a good bit and you're up and down hills, especially a hilly course like Oxbow, it's a lot different than when you're in a cart. It'll wear you out when you're playing a round of golf like that," said Belpre golf coach Scott Miller.
Though it's not as quick paced nor does it put extra pads that trap heat on the body, golf does have its heat risks.
A high school golfer typically carries around 14 clubs as and by nature it requires athletes to be in the sun for an extended period of time as they play a round of golf, whether it's 18 or nine holes.
Because of that, hydrating early is important as is keeping fluids in the body while on the course.
"In a sport like golf, where you're out there in the sun and walking the length of time that a match would take you've really got to be conscious of hydration," Miller said.
In addition to hydrating well, taking breaks and wearing light clothing that reflects the sunlight can also help negate risks associated with summer heat. Sports like volleyball, which take place indoors, can also create heat related illnesses as most high school gyms in the area don't have climate control and frequently have little ventilation.
Even schools like Frontier, which does have air conditioning, are careful with their athletes when they're practicing indoors.
"You just play it smart. You schedule the breaks, you explain to the kids," said Frontier volleyball coach Donna Murphy. "We make sure we have the big jug of water and give them the breaks they need."
The OHSAA summer heat guidelines recommend a 10-minute water break be scheduled for every half hour of heavy exercise in the sun.
Taking breaks is another way to help alleviate the summer heat, but an even easier method Leeper and Sigmund recommend is to avoid the worst heat of the day by exercising early.
Exercising before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. can help the body avoid exposure to the worst heat of the day.
The OHSAA also requires football players to have a minimum of five days of acclimatization, where pads cannot be worn and contact is forbidden to help get athletes used to the heat. For cross country runners like the Tigers under Leeper, or even the average Mid-Ohio Valley resident looking to get outside for some exercise, another viable way to cut down
on heat exposure is to take their run off the streets and into the woods.
"That shade alone literally makes a 10 degree difference. Ninety degrees out there in the baking sun on open grass is 82 degrees on the shaded trails," Leeper said.
Taking into account all the various things that can be done to keep the body cool and reduce exposure to heat, it is possible to exercise over the summer months with safety and fun. "When people practice those kinds of things and get into routines, that's when you really minimize the risks," Leeper said.