We all know that water is essential to everything we do. It fuels muscles, improves skin and brain health, assists with digestion and helps ward off sickness. But what many people, especially young athletes, don’t consider is that water can also help improve athletic performance.
Did you also know that kids are at a higher risk for dehydration and heat illness compared to adults? The reality is that children have a lower sweating capacity and produce more heat during physical activity than adults, which makes them more prone to dehydration.
That risk increases on a hot or humid day, especially for kids in poor physical shape or kids participating in organized sports with multiple, intense workouts. The heat and lack of water can create a perfect storm, leading to muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke. At best, this can keep them from performing at their peak level. At worst, it can be more serious and warrant emergency response.
Each year more than 9,000 high school athletes are treated for heat illness in the United States. That’s one kid every hour of every day.
But this is an easy problem to fix. Drinking water on a regular basis – before, during and after physical activity – can help prevent these avoidable trips to the emergency room. It also can play a leading role in a young athlete’s playing performance for the big game.
In terms of quantity, its best to break it down by gulps. Generally speaking, a young child who weighs around 90 pounds should drink about ten gulps of water every 20 minutes when playing sports. Older kids or teens weighing around 130 pounds should drink about 20 gulps of water during that same time frame.
The key to staying hydrated is for kids to drink water even if they’re not thirsty. Drinking water at least 30 minutes before an activity begins and every 15-20 minutes during play will help keep kids healthy and active. Drinking water after practices and games to replenish fluids is essential, too.
So cheers to a summer filled with a lot of physical activity.