The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees, issuing a policy statement, on the importance of hydration with youth sports, including strategies to safeguard against heat illness especially during fall sports.
It’s of key importance to hydrate well, both for safety and performance. Here are some tips to educate athletes and the coaching staff, as well as parents to safeguard against heat illnesses:
Athletes should aim to start every practice fully hydrated.
Water is the best choice when physical activity is less than 60 minutes in duration for most athletes. However, sports drinks may be appropriate if hot and humid weather, excessive sweating, or prolonged physical activity for more than 60 minutes is occurring. Athletes with excessive sweating need sufficient electrolytes along with fluid for appropriate rehydration. No- and reduced- calorie sports beverages provide electrolytes while limiting carbohydrate intake while sports drinks with 6-8 percent of carbohydrates are appropriate in these situations noted above. Excessive carbohydrates during athletic performances can result in a bloated feeling or abdominal cramping so fruit juice and concentrated drinks prepared from powders are not advised.
Even a 1 percent loss in body weight can affect performance, resulting in noticeable thirst, dizziness, lightheadedness, irritability, fatigue, weakness, nausea, headache, muscle cramping, dark yellow urine and difficulty paying attention. It’s obvious all of these symptoms could contribute to a decrease in athletic performance and scholastic achievement. Encourage your athletes to stay hydrated by educating them on the signs and symptoms, as well as how to prevent dehydration.
For other low-calorie methods to stay hydrated, check out this article.
An award-winning dietitian, Jen Haugen, RDN, LD, is the author of the new book, “The Mom’s Guide to a Nourishing Garden.” Jen specializes in inspiring moms to create the recipe to a nourishing life through gardening, good food, family, and faith. Her TEDx Talk, “How Moms Can Change the World”, features two simple ideas that can transform a family. Connect with her at www.jenhaugen.com or on Twitter @jenhaugen.