Everyone is at risk for heat injuries during the hot weather, but as summer sport camps kick into gear, I wanted to stress the importance for everyone to stay hydrated. High temperatures combined with high exertion, unless combined with adequate fluid intake, can lead to cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Many camps do not have athletic trainers or medical staff present but most all coaches are very aware of the importance of keeping the athletes hydrated.

Water plays a critical role in how the body responses to physical activity. The body regulates its temperature by sweating, a process dependent on the amount of water in the body. If the amount of water drops below a certain level, the body cannot adequately sweat, and consequently, body temperature rises rapidly. This increase in core body temperature can negatively impact physical performance as well as cause one or more heat injuries.

Dehydration of just 1 to 2 percent of body weight can negatively influence athletic performance. Dehydration of greater than 3 percent of body weight increases an athlete’s risk of developing a heat-related illness. This level of dehydration is common in sports – just one hour of exercise is enough and even less can cause problems if the athlete begins an exercise session dehydrated.

Most everyone can avoid heat injuries by following simple steps that include drinking water before, during and after exercise.

It’s not enough to drink water while you are exercising or practicing. In fact, if you are thirsty during practice or exercise that is a pretty good indication you are already dehydrated. It is important that athletes NOT use thirst as an indicator of how much water to drink.

So put down those soft drinks, tea, etc. Pick up a water bottle and start drinking. Your body will thank you for it in more ways than one.

Lynn Pass is owner of The Gym in Oneonta. She holds
a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Performance
from Auburn University and personal training and aerobic

certifications in ACE, AFFA, and ACSM.