When Doug Casa, then a 16-year-old distance runner at Newfield High School in Selden, collapsed and nearly died from heat stroke during a race in August 1986, he made a vow. "I decided I was going to use this experience to try and save as many lives as possible from what had almost killed me," says Casa, who grew up in Selden.
He made good on his promise. Today, Casa is an exercise scientist and chief executive officer of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, named for the NFL player who died of heat stroke at a preseason practice in August 2001.
The research Casa and his colleagues do at the institute and elsewhere has led to new insights into how the average exerciser can successfully train in summer.
"We know a lot now about how to keep people safe and cool in the heat," says Casa.
Here are some tips, based on the latest research:
Chill out before you work out
Deposit your heat here
"In the Army, we've been using a technique called 'heat dumping,'" says Dr. Francis O'Connor, professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. "At Airborne School, they'll run them through cold showers. During basic training, we have troughs filled with chilled water, so people can roll up their sleeves and dip their arms in there."
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Don't forget the basics of outdoor activity in summer
"The fitter you are, the easier you can handle heat," says Casa, who now lives in Storrs but spends his summer vacations in Montauk. "Make sure you go out earlier, take more breaks and modify the intensity. If you don't feel well, don't be stubborn . . . back off."