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After a year at home during the pandemic, many student-athletes are excited to return to fall sports.

But as they begin preseason training, they need to pay attention to the heat.

“We know that climate change is increasing temperatures and causing more extremely hot days. And we know that young athletes are vulnerable to heat-related illness,” says Rebecca Philipsborn, a pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Emory University School of Medicine.

She says the risks are higher this year because so many young people were sedentary during the pandemic. And when athletes are out of condition, they’re more likely to suffer heat-related illness.

“We’ve seen a lot of deconditioning in our practice, a lot of kids who’ve gained a disproportionate amount of weight this year,” she says. “And so attention to prevention of heat-related illness is going to be even more important.”

Philipsborn recommends that athletes increase the duration and intensity of their workouts slowly so they can gradually adjust to the heat.

She reminds them to stay hydrated and advises them to exercise early in the morning before it’s too hot – because for young athletes, staying safe and healthy is the most important goal of all.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media