Protect Young Athletes from Dehydration

Photo Credit: Derrick Mealiffe CC-BY-SA-2.0
Many children play sports outdoors during the summer. Dehydration can be a risk when the weather is hot and the kids are playing. Children who engage in vigorous exercise that includes running, baseball, softball and soccer can become dehydrated quickly. Protective clothing and padding can contribute to dehydration and overheating by holding in heat and preventing the evaporation of sweat. Children who may be especially susceptible to heat-related illness include those who are overweight, rarely exercise, have a condition like diabetes and children who have recently had a cold or flu. Dehydration can increase the risk of heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Most team coaches are trained to prevent dehydration by providing water and drinks to restore electrolyte balance in young athletes, but don’t rely completely on your child’s coach. There are steps you can and should take to make sure your child remains hydrated during a game. 
Make sure that your child drinks plenty of water before and during a game or practice session. Take your own bottled water and sports drinks to the game or practice and make sure that your child drinks a cup of water at each break in the game. Learn the warning signs of dehydration and take action immediately if you think a child may be succumbing to a heat-related illness. Dehydration symptoms include a dry mouth, headache, thirst, cramps, dizziness and fatigue. Make sure your child knows how to recognize the symptoms of dehydration and to report symptoms to the coach or to you immediately. Left untreated with water, dehydration can result in confusion and loss of consciousness. A child that appears to be confused should be taken to an emergency room immediately. 
Dehydration is easily prevented by providing children with plenty of water before, during and after practice and games. Talk with your child’s team coach about dehydration prevention and the warning signs of dehydration. Games and practice should be cancelled or moved indoors when the temperature and humidity is high. 

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About Robin R.
I’m an AFPA certified personal trainer & nutrition consultant, NASM certified corrective exercise specialist, NASM certified youth exercise specialist, online fitness coach and freelance writer specializing in health and fitness. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health. I specialize in weight loss, functional strength training, total body toning, aerobic conditioning, plyometric training, nutrition planning, and home-based boot camp style workouts for women. My goal is to make every personal training session fun and effective for my clients. My services include both in-home personal training and online fitness coaching.

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