As the summer wares on, dehydration can be a problem, especially for children.
A number of factors place young children, and especially young athletes, at an increased risk for dehydration and various heat illnesses. First, the higher energy expenditure of young athletes means that they produce more metabolic heat. In addition, young athletes don’t sweat as efficiently as older athletes and thus cannot cool their bodies as effectively. Finally, young athletes are not as diligent about drinking fluids and their core body temperature, during dehydration, tends to increase faster. For these reasons it is essential that young athletes be encouraged to drink frequently even when they are not thirsty.
Research studies have shown that providing a cooled and flavored beverage produces greater fluid consumption among children and helps prevent dehydration. Parents should make sure that athletes arrive at practice sessions, games or competitions fully hydrated. Coaches should enforce drink “pauses” every 15-20 minutes even when athletes do not feel thirsty. Parents, coaches and the athletes themselves should watch for the “warning signs of dehydration:”
* Decreased performance
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides the following guidelines for the maintenance of optimal hydration:
Before Exercise: 16 – 20 full ounces within the 2-hour period prior to exercise
During Exercise: 4 – 6 full ounces
Post Exercise: replace 24 full ounces for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.
** As a matter of practice, most people do not weigh their children before and after exercise. Rather than measuring pounds and ounces, it is better to just create a routine habit of drinking 12-24 oz after exercise, depending on intensity.
NOTE: While Sports Energy Drinks taste good, the best source of hydration is still good old fashioned water. Sports drinks are designed for strenuous activity that lasts longer than 2 hours. A regulation soccer match lasts only 90 minutes (at U19 and above). As a compromise a 50/50 mix of sports drink and water can be used. Temperature and humidity are factors, as well as initial hydration levels, so it is a good idea to be prepared with a replenishing drink for shorter efforts as well.
Furthermore, a sports drink, which consists of electrolytes (salts and minerals), sugar, and water, ideally is NOT full of artificial color, artificial flavors, too much sugar, and preservatives.
For a truly healthy, and very easy to make recipe for a sports drink, read the post “The Ultimate Sports Drink” in Electrolytes category.