Physical Training in high temperatures-know the essentials!

April 24, 2009 · Filed Under This & That 

CDC-NIOSH:Heatstroke 24Apr09

Physical Training in high temperatures-know the essentials!

A vital part of a Soldier’s ability to perform his or her mission effectively, especially in the harsh climates of Iraq and Afghanistan is physical training (also known as PT).

Regular physical training not only provides strength and endurance, it can also be a morale booster and stress reducer!

Safety considerations for physical exertion in hot climates.

During the summer, temperatures in Iraq and Afghanistan can rise to over 120F; add to that a few pounds of gear, body armor and such.

Soldiers should get or have:

  • proper hydration, essential for preventing heat injuries.
  • consume a proper mixture of water and drinks that replenish electrolytes to avoid a condition called hyponatremia.
  • proper rest on a regular basis (difficult in 24/7 combat zones).
  • avoid dependence on energy drinks and caffeine as a substitute for proper rest; in the long run these drinks draw fluids from your body rather than replenish.
  • avoid over-working out and turning to supplements for performance enhancement. Supplement use can cause a metabolic imbalance increasing the likelihood of suffering a heat injury.

Proper diet-nutrition

Severe heat can reduce the appetite; combined with high levels of physical activity can result in unhealthy weight loss. The best scenario is moderate exercise done on a regular basis.

PT Surge- the practice of working out extremely hard after being sedentary for a prolonged period of time can be particularly dangerous in high temperatures.

The summer months are approaching, Soldiers need to use common sense when conducting PT (physical training) whether in combat zones or here at home.

From the CDC:

Heat-related illnesses include:

• Heatstroke – a life-threatening illness in which body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes; symptoms include dry skin, rapid, strong pulse and dizziness

• Heat exhaustion – an illness that can precede heatstroke; symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse

• Heat cramps – muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise

• Heat rash – skin irritation from excessive sweating

For more information:

Journal of Athletic Training Publishes Systematic Review of Treatment Options for Hyperthermia Caused by Physical Exertion and Exercise. (FEB 2009) Systematic review of treatment options [pdf].

Click here for multi-media image (Mayo Clinic)

HOOAH 4 HEALTH: general health and welfare.

Heat Exhaustion, First Aid – Information for adults


CLICK to view Free Text (pdf or html) on supplement use in the Military (published 2008).

Heat injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008

March 2009

  • Between 2004 and 2008, heat-related injuries were diagnosed at > 300 medical facilities worldwide.
  • 14 facilities treated at least 200 cases each, approximately 60% of all cases.
  • Since 2005, rates of heat stroke have been fairly stable, heat exhaustion rates have slightly declined.
  • In recent years, annual numbers of hospitalized cases (the most clinically severe) of both heat stroke and heat exhaustion have been stable.

Military activities in hot and humid environments are persistent, significant threats to the health and operational effectiveness of service members. Of all service members, the youngest and most inexperienced are at highest risk of heat related injuries — including life threatening heat-associated conditions such as heat stroke, exertional hyponatremia, and exertional rhabdomyolysis. Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

REFERENCE: accessed 23Apr2009.

Karen PAAM

“All the Way!”




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