Military Life

Fancy five days in a sauna? Researchers think it could prevent fainting on parade

The chance of fainting on parade in the heat could be significantly reduced if service personnel were to undergo some form of heat acclimatisation beforehand, research has shown. 

This could be as simple as turning the heat up in the gym and taking hot baths or saunas for five days before the parade.  

The aim is to get the body used to the levels of heat gradually before the day of the parade. 

A  research study was conducted with two groups of athletes – one group was made to adapt to heat over time, and the other control group was exposed to normal temperatures.

The group exposed to heat beforehand exercised in temperatures of 32°C and submerged themselves in hot water. 

The study suggests the risk of fainting on parade in the heat could be significantly reduced if service personnel were to undergo some form of heat acclimatisation beforehand
The study suggests the risk of fainting on parade in the heat could be significantly reduced if service personnel were to undergo some form of heat acclimatisation beforehand (Picture: MOD).

The researchers then measured and compared how long both groups could tolerate standing in hot conditions before they fainted.

The research found that the athletes exposed to higher temperatures had increased their tolerance to standing in the heat by a third in comparison to the other group. 

Dr (Major) Ian Parsons, from the Royal Army Medical Corps and lead researcher of the study, suggested that putting service personnel through a five-day heat acclimation programme before a big parade would make them more comfortable on the big day and reduce their chance of fainting. 

This could be easily done through exercising in warm gyms, followed by having a hot bath or going into a sauna. 

The research also found increasing a person's salt intake for one week prior to the parade and drinking 500ml of cold water immediately before a parade could help reduce the risk of fainting.

Flexing and releasing the large muscles in the legs while standing to attention can also benefit personnel, the study found.

Dr Parsons said: "While I would not say we have solved the age-old problem of fainting on parade, we have certainly reduced the risk enormously."