Importance of hydration in young athletes

Summer is finally here and this season is all about heat and humidity. It’s also the season for outdoor sports for young people (and old!). The combination of the practice of outdoor sports and the high temperatures of Quebec, increase the susceptibility to dehydration and heat stroke.

Sweat rates in young athletes

The body moderates our internal temperature, among other things, by sweating. However, in young people, this body temperature regulation system is not fully developed. Studies show that sweating levels are lower in young people compared to adults, thus reducing their ability to dissipate heat. In addition, children have certain characteristics that could put them at greater risk for dehydration. Experts believe that children’s thirst signals are weak and that they are more susceptible to an increase in body temperature on hot days and during physical activities due to their higher ratio of body surface area to body weight. Although there are several studies on the hydration needs of adult athletes, more studies are needed in young people to validate the influence of its characteristics on their hydration level.

Fluid consumption is still important at all ages to avoid heat stroke and dehydration, especially in hot and humid weather and during physical exertion. By relying on their thirst, young people can meet their water needs. However, you need to remind them regularly and increase their water consumption on more active days. Remind your child to drink before, during, and after exercise.

Before exercise

Present him with water, milk or alternatives, smoothie or diluted juice with his meal or snack before exercise.

During exercise

Encourage her to drink frequently and at regular intervals, but in small sips (eg 3-4 sips every 15-20 minutes). Limit commercial sports drinks, opt for more natural choices and homemade recipes!

After exercise

Encourage him to drink until his urine is clear and he is no longer thirsty. So when he decides to go outside and play with his friends, he’ll be well hydrated!

What to drink

Water is the ideal liquid for hydration, but other drinks with a little flavor can be offered to fill the needs as well. Be careful with liquids that are too sweet as these can be harmful to dental health and contribute to excess calories and obesity. Water with iced fruit, or citrus slices, diluted juice, a few drops of maple syrup added to fresh water or maple water could be interesting (and tasty! ), which would ensure optimal hydration for your children this summer!

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