Summer youth sports can pretty easily lead to dehydration.
I know it feels like only yesterday we were pleading for summer to arrive, but it is here now, and it is almost too hot for words! Warm weather brings a lot of great benefits to the table, namely that the kids are happy to play outside for hours, leaving you free to catch up on your to-do list, or (hopefully) relax a little. That being said, it’s important to note that kids don’t adjust to high temperatures as well as adults, as they produce more heat and don’t sweat as much (due to sheer size alone). This can pretty easily lead to dehydration, especially if your kids are involved in child sports, even recreationally.
We all know that dehydration can lead to a heat-related illnesses and even death, so here are a few tips to keep your kids hydrated during these hot summer months.
READ MORE: How to Tell if You are Dehydrated
Give them plenty of water. I know this may sound way too obvious (Thanks, Dr. Karen!), but what I really mean here is that sports drinks contain lots of sugar on top of electrolytes, so teaching your kids good water habits early on will only benefit them later on in life, both on and off the field.
Encourage breaks. When your kids are playing sports, make sure they are well hydrated beforehand, encourage them to drink often (about every 20 mins), and ask that they take breaks often.
Acclimate your kids to the heat slowly. If they are exercising often, slowly increase the length of their workouts over a period of two weeks, which will train them to drink more water and sweat more.
Buy light-weight, light-colored athletic clothing with ventilation. If your child’s sport requires heavy padding, let them practice in lighter clothes first so they get used to it before throwing on heavy pads.
Pay attention to timing. Exercising or playing sports during the hottest times of the day should be avoided. Early morning or late afternoon works much better in terms of preventing dehydration. Pay special attention to the heat index, as it is the clearest indicator of dehydration risk. A relative humidity of 35% and air temperature of 95 degrees is enough to cause heat related illnesses.