This tip focuses on football, as high school and college teams start their practices in the brutal heat of the summer. You can apply it to any sport or exercise done in the warmest months of the year. We must take steps to prevent heat stroke deaths in the summer months.
Deaths due to heat illness are tragic because we can largely prevent them. A study looking at 20 years of data from high school and college football show that heat illness was the third most common cause of death. Of the 38 players that died of heat illness, all occurred between July and September. 83% occurred when doing two-a-day practices. 44% occurred on the first day of practice.
I make some recommendations for players and teams to acclimate to heat in another tip. I want to stress a measure you can take months ahead of the start of practice to decrease your risk of, and maybe prevent heat stroke.
Hydration key in summer heat
Practice changes a good start to prevent heat illness
The average body mass index of the football players who died of heat stroke was 33.9 (BMI greater than 30 usually defines obesity). Heat illness is mostly a problem among obese athletes.
Many football players are big and strong, but unfortunately many are obese. Rather than waiting for the start of summer practice to get in shape (and risking heat illness), start now to lose weight. Start lifting weights in the spring. Start running outside to lose pounds and grow accustomed to the heat. Build up your cardiovascular stamina.
Arriving to summer practice in shape will not only help your performance on the field, but it will most likely keep you alive.