Knowledge and Practices of Heat Acclimation in Recreational Runners

No Thumbnail Available
Heatherly, Alexander John
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
Heat acclimation is the foremost method of preventing exertional heat illness during exercise in hot and humid environments. However, the prevalence of heat acclimation (HA) training and associated knowledge is not currently known in recreational running populations. The purpose of this dissertation was to determine the knowledge and practices of recreational runners toward HA across two studies. Additionally, participants’ training practices were examined for signs of natural HA as well as differences in knowledge and practice among participants of different training status. In study one, recreational runners in the Southeastern United States (N = 125) demonstrated a lack of knowledge toward proper HA training and associated benefits. Participants largely received HA advice from their peers (31.2 %) and a large majority reported no professional guidance in their training (79.2 %). Finally, participants’ beliefs toward proper HA training differed among training groups with moderate and high groups perceiving greater frequency, miles/wk, and min/wk as appropriate for HA compared to the low group (p < .05). In study two, it was determined that participants’ HA practices did not meet the current recommended professional guidelines regardless of training status. Participants preferred running for HA purposes (88.8%) with the majority preferring to run before 8 am (41.6 %). A total of 85.6% of participants reported their performance had suffered due to overheating with no association found by training group (N = 125; χ2 = 2.10; p = .35). Yearly occurrence of exertional heat illness (EHI) symptoms was not statistically different among participants of different training status, however there was a trend for participants in the low group to experience less nausea (Mdifference = -1.65; d = -0.41) and muscle cramps (Mdifference = -0.90; d = -0.31) compared to the high group. Finally, while there were statistically significant differences in some participants’ duration, miles/wk, or min/wk of exercise across seasons (p < .05), a general consistency in training variables throughout a training year was present. In conclusion, governing bodies in exercise and sports should consider developing more comprehensive and more widely distributed educational initiatives for the recreational running population regarding HA and EHI prevention.
Exercise, Heat, Running, Survey, Kinesiology