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Gearing Up for Fall Sports

As fall approaches, many children, adolescents and teens will start practicing after a break from sports during the summer. Preparing for physical activity and exercise is important for preventing injuries and optimizing performance.

As fall approaches, many children, adolescents and teens will start practicing after a break from sports during the summer. Preparing for physical activity and exercise is important for preventing injuries and optimizing performance.

Playing or Practicing Outside? Watch Out for the Heat

Parents and athletes know that practices and games in late August and early September can get hot. Overheating during exercise can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

In fact, overheating can be fatal. Such was the case with Korey Stringer, a professional football player who died of heat-related illness after an August practice in Mankato, Minn.

Before starting vigorous physical activity in the heat, people should be acclimatized, or used to the heat. According to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, athletes should perform 90 minutes of aerobic exercise in the heat daily for one to two weeks before starting higher-intensity exercise such as practicing.  

Proper hydration also is important for preventing heat-related illnesses. Athletes should be well-hydrated prior to exercise. The Korey Stringer Institute recommends that athletes consume 2 to 3 cups of water or a sports drink prior to exercise. During practices, people should have unlimited access to water and/or sports drinks and should be allowed to drink as much as they want.

Don’t Forget to Eat

Carbohydrate found in breads, pastas, rice and potatoes is the primary source of fuel for the body during exercise, and not eating enough of these foods can affect performance negatively.

Proteins, on the other hand, are the building blocks of our bodies and allow us to recover and repair after exercise. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that people consume a meal containing protein and carbohydrate one to three hours before exercise and immediately after exercise. Some good examples of these foods include chocolate skim milk, Greek yogurt with honey or fruit, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or a sports bar that contains carbohydrate and protein.

 

Nathaniel Johnson, Program Assistant, NDSU Extension

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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