TEMPE, AZ - While being unprepared in the desert sun can be dangerous, at Arizona State University, researchers are using the sun to their athletes' advantage.
"Performance improves as they become better acclimated with the heat," explained Josh Beaumont, ASU Associate Athletic Trainer explained.
That is a reason why the new "Athleat Field Lab" was created to conduct research built from the rays of our powerful sun to see how the heat and hydration can impact on-field performance.
The "Cool the Fork" study started a few months ago with ASU Women's Soccer team. Now, it has expanded to include other athletes in the controlled environment.
It starts by getting all the measurements, like height and weight.
But, Athleat Field Lab founder Floris Wardenaar also is measuring hydration by giving athletes specific amounts of both a zero-calorie sports drink and water.
What tips the charts the most in this experiment, however, is the Tempe lab's temperature.
"What we did is measure the athletes before their practice... try to standardize the practice and measure them afterwards, so do body weight measurements, hydration measurements, that kind of stuff, and then compare the pre and the post measurements, and also compare that between days."
"At the moment it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 35 percent humidity," explained Wardenaar. "Acclimated athletes perform better in the heat, but they also perform better outside the heat, so in normal temperatures."
So, Wardenaar knows our athletes in Arizona could have an advantage -- if it is done safely.
This research is aiming to see the hydration levels of athletes while they are working out to see how differing levels can impact stamina and performance.
"I think if we can show what the impact is of the heat on fluid balance and as well, show how our athletes deal with it at the moment, we can come up with even better approaches to help them, you know, perform better and also guard their safety," Wardenaar described.
Wardenaar said that what they uncover with this ongoing research should help other people too, like those in the construction industry.
ASU is working in collaboration with the University of Arizona on this for the occupational side, as well.