Sports Hydration for Kids
There are many essential elements of safety that need to be considered when children play sports. Particularly in Florida’s hot weather, hydration must always remain a top safety priority. Most young athletes don’t realize how frequently they need to drink water in order to cool their bodies and support major functions like blood circulation, metabolism, and nutrient absorption. In order to avoid heat stroke and the other dangers associated with dehydration, it is very important to encourage children to drink enough water before, during, and after they participate in sports.
The Importance of Water For Athletes
The body cannot store water, which means it must consistently receive a fresh supply of water in order to function and thrive. On a regular basis, water makes it possible for the body to digest food, remove waste, protect vital organs, convert food to energy, cushion joints, and more. As children play sports, water also serves the critical role of cooling the body and regulating body temperature through sweating. If children do not drink enough water to replace the fluids they lose during athletic activity, they risk suffering the side effects of dehydration and even heat stroke.
Signs of Dehydration and Heat Stroke
Dehydration is a serious condition that can lead to hospitalization if not resolved quickly. The body usually enters the first stage of dehydration before a child even begins to feel thirsty, so if thirst is ignored for too long, the symptoms worsen quickly. They include dry lips and tongue, dark urine, lack of energy, and sudden decline in performance. Dehydration can even culminate in heat stroke after too much time is spent in high temperatures. Heat stroke cases the body’s cooling system to stop working, which leads to throbbing headache, dizziness, hot skin, muscle weakness, rapid heartbeat, confusion, and possibly seizures or unconsciousness. It is critical for children to drink plenty of water during sports in order to avoid these dangerous conditions.
Encouraging Safe Hydration Habits
Parents and coaches can help children avoid the unpleasant and dangerous symptoms of dehydration and heat stroke by encouraging proper hydration habits. To begin, it is important for children to understand that the first step to healthy hydration is drinking water before they start playing sports. It is recommended that kids drink a cup of cold water in the hour leading up to sports, and another cup 10 to 15 minutes before playing. Since the sensation of thirst signals that dehydration has already started, children should drink water every 20 minutes during sports, even if they don’t feel thirsty. Of course, drinking plenty of water after athletic activity has ended ensures that all lost fluid are fully replaced.
When young athletes are supported and encouraged to drink plenty of water before, during, and after play, they can stay safe and enjoy their sports.