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Keeping it cool

An athlete running in an event, wearing sport sunglasses

Athletes not only have to worry about performing under the pressure of high-stakes competition but also have to deal with a very humid climate.

Keeping it cool:

Strategies to cope with body heat in sports is a pressing issue. The Tokyo Olympics will now be held in the hot and muggy Japanese summer of July 2021 where the temperature is expected to be above 33°C. Athletes have to worry about performing under the pressure of high-stakes competition but also now have to deal with a very hot and humid climate. The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will also have high temperatures and athletes must use cooling strategies during the competition. This is an increasing problem for athletes due to both competition timing and increased temperatures due to global warming.

Illness due to heat can have serious consequences:

Because our body temperature is usually around 37°C if your body temperature increases over 40°C that is a very big problem!

Dehydration decreased performance and decreased brain function are the dangers faced when our core body temperature climbs too high.

To help combat this, sportswear company Mizuno teamed up with some very smart people to test a new type of cooling vest. The cooling vest is filled with ice packs and features a collar that can also cool the neck. The aim of the vest is to cool the athletes’ upper-body skin which can decrease the heart rate and temperature of their neck and skin.

Testing of this vest has shown a lot of promise. Test athletes exercised for 30 minutes followed by 15 minutes of rest, with and without the cooling vest, then exercised for a final 30 minutes in a format similar to a soccer match. The athletes who wore the vest at half-time showed increased performance in the second half. They also said that they felt more comfortable in the second half, an important factor is comfort and relaxation during halftime as it’s important to avoid stress during a game.

These findings are not just applicable to athletes but to people that exercise in hot conditions day in day out e.g. if you live in Singapore or have to train in your lunch break in the eight of NZ summer!

This new technology could also be used for people with disabilities who might find it more difficult to regulate body temperature.

Story Source: Hiroshima University