In the Western states, school is back in session in the hottest months of summer – July and August. Our children have probably been hanging out in the air conditioning during the hot summer months exercising their thumbs! Now they’re being exposed to the summer heat while walking to and from bus stops and practicing for fall sports teams. Do you know how to talk to your kids about the importance of keeping hydrated? Are you sure your schools’ coaches are providing your child with proper hydration during practices and games? Don’t assume it’s so – talk to your child and to their coaches. Proper hydration is an important step to warding off potentially dangerous heat related illnesses.
The body needs a sufficient amount of fluids to keep cool. As a child exercises, their muscles generate heat, raising the temperature of their body. When the body gets hot, it sweats and this evaporating sweat cools off the body. If the child does not replace the water lost through sweating by drinking more fluids to replace the body’s water, the body may overheat. Clear fluids are more beneficial (water and sports drinks) versus soda and energy drinks which can be loaded with sugar and caffeine.
Drinking fluids prior to exercise appears to reduce or delay the dangerous effects of dehydration.
• 1 to 2 hours before sports: 4 to 8 ounces of cold water
• 10 to 15 minutes before sports: 4 to 8 ounces of cold water
• A good meal with containing water (e.g. fruits)
• Every 20 minutes: 5 to 9 ounces of a sports drink, depending on weight (5 for a child weighing 88 pounds, 9 ounces for a child weighing 132 pounds)
• Any time a child feels thirsty
• Encourage drinking fluids during timeouts and breaks
• Encourage drinking from their own fluid container and avoid sharing with others
• Encourage the ability to drink whenever they want and not to wait until they are told to take a break
• Adjust fluid needs during practice according to the weather, amount of equipment worn, and practice duration and intensity.
Post-exercise hydration should aim to correct any fluid lost during the practice and help the body recover from sports:
• Within the first 30 minutes after exercise, drink chocolate milk or a specially formulated sports drink containing protein and carbohydrates such as Gatorade G3 Recover. Not only do they hydrate, but the protein helps the body recover from exercise by enhancing muscle repair, and the carbohydrate replenish glygogen stores in muscles, which are a source of fuel during prolonged exercise of an hour or more.
• Within two hours: 20-24 ounces of a sports drink for every pound (16 ounces) of weight lost
• Replace all fluids lost during exercise plus any lost after exercise through urination
• Eat a good meal with foods containing water
Even if your child is not currently participating in sports, use these guidelines to help them stay healthy and hydrated during the hot summer months.