It seems we’ve run right into the heat of summer without even a hint of spring temperatures. Not having any kind of gradual heat transition can present a real danger of possible heat exhaustion or even heat stroke no matter how fit an individual might be.
Now is a good time to provide a few tips on how to recognize, and what to do, when heat conditions start to affect our performance on the tennis courts. This also applies to any outdoor activity you might take part in when it’s hot outside.
A first, good step to take is to eat more carbohydrates. The USTA Sports Science Committee recommends that foods such as grains, fruits and vegetables be eaten, because the heat causes you to burn more carbs than you would in cooler conditions. And, the more active you are, the more you need to take in to balance the loss.
Next, it’s critical to hydrate. That means drink plenty of water and healthy fluids daily, and especially the day before you plan to have a full day of activity in the sun.
If you’re regularly on the courts, keep drinking a couple of ounces of water/sports drink at each change-over.
When I was a kid, our family doctor, who’s son was an advanced tennis player, always recommended drinking an 8-ounce glass of water every couple of hours, daily, as an overall type of “preventative maintenance” to stay healthy. Seems to me he was heads-up on the benefits of staying hydrated.
Get plenty of sleep, because lack of sleep can increase susceptibility to heat illness.
Check with your doctor regarding any medications you might be taking and how they might affect sweat loss under heat stress, and consider modifying them – if the doctor advises it.
Use sunscreen (at least SPF-30) on all exposed skin, wear a hat that covers the ears and back of the neck, and wear UV rated sunglasses.
Finally, to help you stay safe, know the signs that might suggest heat illness: headache, weakness, dizziness, irritability, apathy, nausea, confusion, muscle twinges or cramps. If you experience any of these while being active in the heat – or notice signs in someone else – stop the activity and seek immediate help.
Here’s hoping you “beat the heat” safely this summer.
Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio & Youth Tennis Coach who lives and teaches in the greater Bluffton/Hilton Head Island area.