Proper hydration is critical for young athletes

Keep your student athlete hydrated during summer sport practices and camps.

Hydration is crucial when children are physically active in the summer.
Hydration is crucial when children are physically active in the summer.

Drink more water! It’s something we’ve all heard but don’t always do. With approximately 75 percent of our body weight being water, we can’t live for more than one week without it. With temperatures climbing and children engaged in summer physical activities, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the young athletes in your family are getting enough water in their diet.

Water requirements for athletes vary daily, as the amount of water needed depends on their level of physical activity, ambient temperatures and various other factors. Water regulates body temperature, which is something very important during strenuous activities, especially when outside or in facilities lacking air conditioning. Training for just 30 minutes can generate up to a half-gallon of perspiration. It’s incredibly important to replenish your child with water to prevent heat-related illness and injury. Severe dehydration can lead to a lack of energy and mental confusion, as well as fainting and impaired kidney function.

Dehydration can lead to serious health issues such as an irregular pulse, seizures, coma and even death. Therefore make sure your child and their coach understand the need to consume adequate amounts of water before sending them to sport’s camp for a week. Michigan State University Extension recommends that your child or teen should consume between 1.5 to two cups of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of physical activity. It is important that children continually drink water before, during and after physical activity.

Some athletes resort to consuming sports drinks that contain electrolytes. If your child eats a healthy diet that meets their energy and nutrient needs and drinks a sufficient amount of water, then electrolyte replenishment beverages aren't necessary. High endurance athletes that train longer than one hour may benefit from glucose and electrolyte replacements. Water is also more quickly absorbed by the digestive tract than sports drinks, allowing your body to utilize it faster.

So how can you help ensure that your athletes are getting adequate hydration? Make sure they have a reusable water bottle that can be refilled throughout the day. If possible, have them wear light-weight clothing that allows heat to be quickly released from the body. MSU Extension recommends that they eat the daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables to help increase hydration. Some produce, such as celery and watermelon, contains up to 90 percent water, which can help increase hydration as well as provide important nutrients.

Hydration is crucial when children are physically active in the summer. Make sure your young athlete is drinking plenty of water so they will get the most out of their summer activities!

Did you find this article useful?