1. Proper Hydration
Fluids are the most important way to prevent heat injury. Young athletes are also at increased risk for dehydration and various heat illnesses.
They produce more metabolic heat and don't cool their bodies as effectively as older athletes.
They are also not as prone to replenishing fluid loss from sweating. For these reasons it is essential for young athletes to drink frequently even when they are not thirsty.
2. Recommended Fluid Intake
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents and coaches need to be sure children drink plenty of fluids before starting any exercise and that they continue to drink during exercise.
A good starting point is about four to eight ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes of activity for most school-age children and adolescents. You should not depend on the child to tell you how much fluid he or she needs.
Recording your child’s weight (without clothes) both before and after exercise can help determine how much fluid your child needs and help adjust the next day’s fluid intake. Athletes should weigh about the same before and after any activity.
Cold water is fine for rehydration, but flavored sports drinks may encourage your child to drink more. Fruit juices and soda should be avoided since they contain too much sugar.
Eating a salty snack between events is also a way to replace electrolytes, but avoid salt tablets, because they can cause stomach irritation.
2. How much is too much?
Appropriately, most parents and athletes worry about dehydration when competing in sports, however, water intoxication, can occur as a result of drinking too much water.
To treat and prevent this problem, an endurance athlete should drink a sodium containing sports drink for any high intensity event where they are participating without a break for more than 60-90 minutes.
3. Sports Drinks or Water?
Research has suggested that water is sufficient for low to moderate-intensity and non-endurance athletes who do not need to immediately replace carbohydrate or sodium loss from sweating.
Ingredients found in sports drinks such as electrolytes are beneficial in regulating the body’s hydration and nerve and muscle function. For athletes enduring physical activity for more than 60-90 minutes at a time, sports drinks can be more beneficial to replenish lost nutrients.
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For more tips, visit www.childrensdmc.org/kidshealth
To schedule a sports physical or injury assessment with a Children’s Hospital of Michigan sports medicine specialist, call (313) 745-KIDS (5437).
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Posted by +Pat Wyman, author and founder of HowToLearn.com