Exercising in hot weather used to be considered more dangerous for kids than adults. Doctors felt that children’s bodies could not heat stress as well as adult bodies.
Recently published research suggests that this is simply not true. Kids and adults doing similar exercises in the same weather conditions experience the same skin and rectal temperatures and have the same cardiovascular response. This can be an important finding for a nation looking at ways to combat childhood problems associated with obesity.
A new study has just come out in the journal, Pediatrics. It was recently reported on the Los Angeles Times on its blog. A link is included there to the original article reporting the study.
It should be noted that both children and adults can suffer from heat-related illness and that strenuous activity should be monitored. News reports in recent weeks have been filled with reports of high school football players dying in pre-season workouts from heat-related illnesses.
There is an important difference between prohibiting physical activity and properly monitoring this activity. Children suffer heat-related illness due to the following factors:
- Poor hydration
- Undue physical exertion
- Insufficient recovery time between repeated exercise bouts
- Closely scheduled same-day sports competitions or training sessions
- Inappropriate wearing of clothing, uniforms or protective equipment
The simple fact is that exercise-related heat illness is usually preventable with proper precautions. Common sense is the operational concept here. A properly hydrated, rested, 12 year old boy of normal weight might be able to play in a soccer game in 95 degree weather with proper hydration during the game. An over-weight high school football player who had recently been ill may not be able to complete a high-intensity practice session in the same weather conditions without taking extra breaks for hydration and rest.
Coaches and adults have to realize that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to monitoring the exercise activities of children in hot weather conditions. That certainly does not mean that children should simply be allowed to sit around in air conditioned rooms playing video games or using a computer.