Environmental factors such as temperature during competition can hinder performance if not taken seriously. The average body temperature is 37°C (98.6°F). In cool and warm weather, wearing the appropriate gear to be able to perform at a high level is necessary. For example, when playing soccer during the month of November in Canada, there is a good chance it will be cold. To reduce the risk of injury and poor performance, athletes have to do a proper warm up, wear the appropriate clothing and stay properly hydrated. In very hot and or humid temperatures, hydrating becomes extremely important. For athletes, cooling off using wet sponges, and wearing breathable clothing can minimize overheating.
Athletes with allergies or those who have respiratory issues can see a decrease in performance due to environmental factors such as high pollen count or poor air quality. Understanding the air quality and pollen count of the competition and training venues is important as this can enable athletes to limit their exposure by training when the counts are low, or taking the proper precautions during mandatory field times.
High altitude can create disadvantages for athletes who are not acclimatized to the higher elevation. For endurance athletes, high altitude can create limitations to training due to their inability to train as intensely as they would at sea level. At such high elevations, the air is thinner, meaning that there is less oxygen. There is also the likelihood of loss of appetite, which could lead to weight loss and compromised recovery times.
Environmental factors, if not anticipated, can give rise to:
- Dehydration, heat stroke, hyperthermia and frostbite due to changes in temperature
- Difficulty breathing in places with high pollen counts and poor air quality.
- Altitude sickness, weight loss, loss of appetite at high altitude.
References from the SIRC Collection:
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5. Moss D. Training & Competing in Smoggy Conditions. Tricks Of The Trade For Middle Distance, Distance & Cross-Country Running. June 2004;:71-75.
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Singh R. Hydration strategies for exercise performance in hot environment. British Journal Of Sports Medicine. September 2, 2010;44:i40.
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