Football, exercise cause most hospital visits for heat illness

Flickr/RonAlmog
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Flickr/RonAlmog

(CBS) Heat-related illness is a familiar problem for athletes, especially in summer. But which sport sends the most people to the hospital for heat-related emergencies? Football does, according to a report issued Thursday by the CDC.

The report looked at emergency department statistics from 66 U.S. hospitals between 2001 and 2009. It showed that 24.7 percent of emergency room visits for heat-related illness were attributable to football.

Walking, jogging, calesthenics and other forms of exercise accounted for 20.4 percent of visits for heat-related illness. Baseball/softball and track and field were other sports that accounted for lots of emergency room visits for heat-related illness, the report said.

About 250 million U.S. residents participate in sports or recreational activities, and each year there are about 6,000 emergency visits to the hospital for heat-related illness.

What can be done to lower the toll? The National Athletic Trainers' Association suggests several precautions for exercising during warm weather:

  • Increase physical activity slowly.

  • Rest frequently.

  • Drink plenty of water or sports drinks throughout workouts. Dark-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.

  • Exercise during cool portion of the day, if possible.
  • Avoid intense exercise if you have fever, diarrhea, or another symptom of existing illness.

The CDC has more on staying safe in extreme heat.