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how the integration strategy changes

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how the integration strategy changes

The heat doesn’t make everyone agree. There are those who love it and there are those who would like to wake up when the thermometer returns to offer much lower temperatures. Regardless of how we live it, the heat helps neither our body nor our sporting performance. On the contrary. The heat brings fatigue, both muscular and nervous, and consequently stress, which jeopardizes the cardiovascular system, temperature regulation and alters the balance of body fluids. As you will have already understood and perhaps even already experienced on your skin as a sportsman, to (at least) maintain our performance in this period we must act. And do it the right way. Advice? Follow the 3 “anti-heat” integration strategies.

Warmth and sports performance: you need to know that…

First of all, on the subject of high temperatures and sporting performance, you must know that by hot environment we mean one that exceeds 30 degrees C and that racing with these temperatures carries with it a risk: that of running out of energy at our most quickly compared to a performance of the same intensity but performed in a cooler environment. So let’s see how best to manage the influence of heat on our body and thus slow down the onset of fatigue.

Manage high temperatures during sport? Let’s start with thermoregulation

When we practice sports, the heat and the work of the muscles can cause an increase in body temperature. To rebalance this effect we must allow the heat produced by the muscles during the effort to dissipate. The good news is that we have several arrows to our bow. First of all we will have to hydrate ourselves in the correct way and choose appropriate clothing for the climatic conditions. Keep in mind that it is the evaporation of sweat that disperses heat, and therefore lowers body temperature, and not the sweating itself. Containing the increase in body temperature is the goal. In this regard, popsicles or granitas are precious allies, because they favor a lowering of the temperature starting from inside the body in a gradual and therefore safe way for health.

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There is one last thing to take into consideration when scheduling training and competitions in the heat: the body takes about 10-14 days to adapt to a new environmental temperature. This means being patient and planning adaptation strategies in time when we go to compete in hot environments to which we have not yet adapted.

Warmth and hydration: a game to be played to the fullest

To understand how vital it is to maintain an adequate state of hydration, it is enough to start from a basic concept: when the body reduces its weight by even just 2% due to profuse sweating, performance is reduced by about 10%. In light of this fact, I also have to confide in you that unfortunately hydration during physical activity is a game in which the opponent is not only tough but is the favourite. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t even play it. Rather we will have to do everything to reduce the loss of fluids and electrolytes as much as possible and aim as much as possible for a balance between losses and intakes.

How much sweat and how much to drink in the heat

Another aspect to keep in mind is that during physical exercise the amount of sweat that is lost as well as its concentration in minerals can vary greatly. In general, the advice, in physical activities lasting more than an hour, is to ingest about 400-800 ml of water and minerals (sodium, chlorine, potassium and magnesium) every hour, always a little at a time, i.e. drinking in small sips and on several occasions. In case of profuse sweating, however, this quantity may not be sufficient. And this is why it becomes essential for each of us to identify the “right” one. How to calculate it? It is commonly thought that the change in body weight during exercise is an indicator of the change in body water content and, therefore, of the change in hydration status and the need to rehydrate. A point on which everyone agrees is that a weight loss of up to 2% of the pre-exercise value (in an initially well hydrated athlete) is unlikely to produce unfavorable physiological effects.

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It therefore becomes essential to start training sessions and competitions in conditions of normal hydration. Together with water, it also restores mineral salts, especially sodium (and chlorine), the most abundant in sweat. Check the concentration of minerals in rehydrating drinks very well and, in case of heavy sweating, I suggest you rely on products specifically designed for this function.

With the heat you need more sugar

The heat has a further effect on our body: it activates stress thus increasing the synthesis of cortisol. This event translated into practical terms involves an increase in the amount of sugars that the body oxidizes and that of fats is reduced. So remember to increase your carbohydrate intake during exercise for every hour of activity.

Heat and sport: so what is the strategy to adopt?

In summary: the objective is, on the one hand, to avoid an excessive increase in body temperature by taking care of hydration, cooling the body from the inside and allowing sweat to evaporate and, on the other hand, to adjust, by increasing it, the sugar intake during effort.

Photo: Marta Baffi

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