Winter is a popular season for high school sports. It’s the time of year where students can participate in some of their favorite activities such as basketball, swimming, wrestling, hockey, and cross-country. However, with winter sports comes the unavoidable colder weather. Even before you start playing sports in the cold, your body is already working harder than normal just trying to stay warm.
As the body loses more heat, it has to work harder to maintain a regular temperature by generating more heat. The body compensating for the lack of heat can affect an athlete’s performance. Athletes can develop slower reaction times, less efficient muscles, a decrease in stamina and an increased risk of pulling muscles.
So what can high school athletes do to stay healthy during the winter? Here are a few helpful tips for athletes to maintain a safe body temperature and stay warm during the winter sports season:
1. Dress Warm and Keep Clean
Make sure you’re bundling up! Putting on layers of clothes will help you stay warm especially if you have to play a game outside. Your clothes should be preventing any heat from escaping your body as well as keeping your core warm. By layering your clothes you are making sure your body is functioning efficiently by being at the right temperature and will benefit your performance during practice or a big game. You should also make sure your sports gear fits properly with the layered clothing and is clean with Clear Gear Sports Spray to reduce the risk of staph infection or virus during the cold winter months.
2. Keep Moving
Once you’re moving, your body will generate enough heat to keep you warm. Much of your body heat is circulated through the blood stream, so by pumping up your heart rate you will gradually feel warmer as you start to move. When you’re warm you have better joint mobility, enhanced blood flow and warmer muscles, which will lead to a better athletic performance. Athletes should always be warming up before games and should not be sitting idle on the sidelines. By walking or even jumping around athletes will keep warmer and be prepared for the game.
3. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is critical to staying healthy during the winter months. Water is great at retaining heat; keeping your body properly hydrated means you are adding more material into your body to retain warmth with. Although drinking cold water does not sound tempting in cold weather, it is beneficial you do so to not end up dehydrated.
4. Eat Food
Eating generates heat and helps warm your body. Your body generates 10% more heat an hour after you eat than when you have an empty stomach. The increased metabolism stems primarily from energy that is released during digestion. Therefore, eating not only provides fuel but also increases heat production.
What you eat strongly affects your warmth. Your body creates heat by burning calories. If there are not enough calories available to burn it’s harder for you to stay warm in the cold winter months. Assuming the fat will actually be burned, a diet higher in fat will be warmer than a diet lower in fat during game day.
If you know your practice or game is going to be long, you need to prepare nutritionally in advance. You should have a small meal with starches 2-3 hours in advance so they can release sugars slowly. Snacking on carbohydrate rich foods is also recommended if you are going to be exercising for a long time.
5. Kill Dangerous Bacteria
Remember, germs are just as rampant during the winter as they are during the summer. After each winter sports game, disinfect your gear with a disinfectant spray such as Clear Gear Sports Spray to kill dangerous bacteria such as MRSA. This is vital to keeping healthy throughout the year!
With these tips you will not feel the damaging effects of cold weather on your performance during a big game or normal practice. Always remember to stay hydrated, dress with layers, eat before, and keep moving in order to stay warm and healthy this winter. Have any more tips for staying warm? Comment below to share!