No matter what your opinion on global warming and climate change may be, the fact is, when summer hits Southwest Florida, we have a climate change!
As summer kicks in, you can set your clock to the daily afternoon and evening rains. These showers help cool things off and make for a pleasant evening, as well as some spectacular sunsets; but unfortunately, when the sun comes up the next morning, it also creates an atmosphere of very high humidity.
During the months from June through September, it is not uncommon for the temperature to already be in the 90s as early as 8 or 9 AM. Along with that, because of all the moisture in the air from the previous day’s afternoon rains, we are also dealing with humidity in the range of 90%. The combination of these two factors can lead to heat indexes in the triple digits!
The cooling system of the human body functions by the evaporation of moisture, which our body expels, aka “sweat.” The evaporation process is initiated by some form of air passing over the skin, aka “a breeze.” This air changes the temperature and evaporates the sweat, which cools our body temperature.
Here in Florida, there is no lack of having the first part of the formula – sweat! But, when there is no breeze, our body’s cooling system cannot function properly.
Because of this, we need to be aware of and pay attention to our thermostat, aka “body temperature,” and we need to adjust that thermostat according to climate conditions.
Just like with the rains in the afternoon, during the hot summer months you can pretty much set your watch in the morning to the tropical breeze kicking in around 9:30 AM. At this time of day, while the actual temperature may rise by a few degrees as the breeze kicks in, the humidity actually drops, as the moisture from the previous afternoon’s rain has evaporated. Even though the actual temperature may have increased, the breeze combined with the slight drop of humidity, allow our bodies cooling system to be able to work more efficiently and actually keep our body temperature lower.
The breeze is the catalyst that allows the body to cool itself. And as I have already stated, the problem we are presented with is that if there is no breeze, our body’s cooling system cannot function properly.
In addition to our natural cooling system, there are other things we can do to help keep our body’s thermostat in check.
Many of the kids in my Juniors Sports Camps have spray bottles, with a small battery operated fan on thetop. The misting spray of cool water, along with the breeze provided by the fan, create the perfect combination to assist our body’s natural cooling system. Not to mention, it feels very pleasant and refreshing!
First and foremost is water! To insure proper hydration, I believe that regular daily consumption of plenty of good old H2O is best.
Along with regular daily hydration, we also need to do recovery hydration after sports activities. I do not care for sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, because they actually contain high amounts of sugar and are not really the best choice. So how do we know what is the best choice for sports drinks? Read the ingredients!
I recommend a product called Emergen-C. It can be purchased at places like Walgreens or Walmart. It is a powder that you mix with water and it comes in several different flavors. I personally like the raspberry flavor.
Another good choice for hydration recovery is a product called
Pedialyte. Pedialyte is actually formulated for babies and infants who become dehydrated. Pedialyte can be consumed as a liquid or as a freezer pop. I find the freezer pops to be very flavorful and refreshing.
As a matter of fact, along with drinking lots of water, I incorporate both Emergen-C and Pedialyte as a part of my daily hydration routine during the hot summer months. FOOD
It is also important to be properly fueled with food before, during and after playing. This means knowing when to fuel up and what to fuel up with. You want to eat a healthy medium-size meal, approximately one hour before you plan to compete. If you are going to be out on the courts for more than an hour, you should plan on snacking while you are competing.
For instance, I like to have some pasta and a salad for a pre-meal and a wheat bagel or pita bread with some cheddar cheese after playing. And you can never go wrong by just having a couple of bananas to snack on. SUNSCREEN
Unfortunately for consumers, most sunscreens are marketed for the convenience of their applications and a pleasant scent. Sunscreen should actually be odorless, it should not make you smell like coconut and should not apply to the skin like creamy hand lotion!
Some sunscreens do not even necessarily provide the amount of protection they claim. Recent studies have shown that 47% of the sunscreens on the market today do not actually provide the SPF factor protection that is stated on the bottle!
So how do we know for sure how much protection we are actually getting? Once again, read the ingredients!
Forget theSPF number, you want to choose a sunscreen which has a zinc oxide content as high as possible (which is 14.5%). You also want to choose a sunscreen that has as few other ingredients as possible.
You should apply the sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going out into the sun. You should also apply sunscreen to parts of the body which are not directly exposed to the sun, because a shirt which is soaking wet and does not contain an SPF fabric, while it can assist our body’s cooling system to function properly, provides very little protection from the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun. COOL TOWELS
Companies are now manufacturing towels which you can soak in cold water and will retain a cool temperature. Take the towel and drape it over your head, neck and shoulders in between games. You would be amazed how this can dramatically reduce and control your body temperature.
Other simple and smart things we can do to protect ourselves are to always wear a hat and sunglasses.
It is also a good idea to try to spend as much time as possible in the shade during changeovers and in between games.
Be aware of and recognize the early signs of dehydration. If you begin to feel fatigued, if your mouth is very dry, if you have the feeling that you are getting a headache, or you become light headed and dizzy; these are all early warning signs of becoming dehydrated and overheated. If you experience any of these signs, get out of the heat, go indoors into air conditioning, and get plenty of fluids into your body ASAP.
So no matter what activities you may be participating in during the long hot summer time, make sure you stay properly hydrated, and pay attention to and listen to what your body is telling you.
Finally, it is also very important to be aware of lightening. There are more recorded lightening strikes in the state of Florida than any other state in the nation. Whenever you see lightning, or hear the lightning alarm go off, get inside immediately!
Wayne Clark is a certified professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction. He has been the head instructor at The Marco Island Racquet Center since 2001. The Racquet Center offers clinics, private and group lessons for both tennis and pickleball. Coach Wayne’s Island Kids Tennis/Sports Juniors programs run year round, and offer classes for players ranging from kindergarten through high school. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.