Is Your Child Getting Enough Water This Summer?

It should go without saying that living in Arizona makes it difficult for anyone to stay hydrated in the summer. But for young athletes it is particularly difficult.

First, obviously, they are out exercising in extreme temperatures (even in the morning it can be over 98 degrees). Second, their bodies don’t tolerate excessive temperatures the way adults do because they haven’t fully developed cooling mechanisms like sweating so kids can overheat more quickly than adults.  Finally, they will tend to just keep playing and not think about continually drinking to stay hydrated. Kids being kids, (even when they are thirsty) they will just keep-on going not recognizing the first signs of dehydration.

So, aside from just keeping your young athlete from over-heating, sports performance diminishes with even the slightest bit of dehydration. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reports that even a 2% decrease in total body water results in a decrease in aerobic exercise performance. Although this may not apply as readily to sprinting sports such as basketball, football, or baseball, the ACSM also reports that this same 2% decrease may decrease mental function, a fact that would apply to all athletics.

Even more critical than sports performance is that, left unchecked, dehydration can rapidly accelerate to heat exhaustion and stroke.

In order to be properly hydrated during practice and at game time, it is important that your child drink enough fluids beforehand.  It is recommended that as early as 4 hours before vigorous exercise, athletes should take-in at least 1-2 cups of fluids. The urine color should then be monitored 2 hours later.  If the urine color is still darker than a light yellow, another ½ to 1 cup of beverage should be ingested.  Drinks with proper amounts of sodium (e.g., Gatorade) or pre-game meals containing sodium can aid in fluid retention and stimulate the athlete to drink enough to be fully hydrated.  During the game, how much to ingest will depend on many variables including the sport, weather conditions, and size of the athlete.  Therefore, the ACSM recommends that athletes monitor weight change during practice and games.

 

Now, we all know that weighing a kid before, during and after practices and games isn’t always practical. So a good rule of thumb to keep water, and electrolyte, levels up during exercise is to drink fluids every 10 to 15 minutes during activity. If it is particularly hot make sure to have the athlete take in water as well an electrolyte replacement drink. Parents, it is a good idea to teach your kids to drink at regular intervals.

After exercise, it is essential to replenish the body’s fluid and nutrient levels. Under normal circumstances, normal meals and drinks will restore proper hydration levels. However, if the athlete has to rehydrate quickly (e.g., play the second of a doubleheader on 2 hours rest), a faster remedy will need to be used. To accomplish this, weight loss should be measured and about 3 cups of fluid should be ingested for every pound lost. Light amounts of foods and drinks containing sodium will also be helpful to promote fluid retention.

 Signs of dehydration to watch for in your child are:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Cramping
  • Difficulty in coordination
  • Excessive thirst

Hydration is as important for optimal performance as practice and good equipment. Carrying out this vital task properly ensures that your athlete has the proper nutrients during key times in the big games and, more importantly, that they learn good habits to function healthfully and avoid injury for the rest of their life.

 

Sources:

American College of Sports Medicine. Exercise and Fluid Replacement. Med Sci Sports

Exerc. 39(2):377-390, 2007.

           

Stuck in a rut with your kids this summer? Don’t let them slip into a video game induced coma. Here are some ideas to keep them mentally and physically engaged through the sweltering heat. And who knows? It might get you (the parent) moving and having fun too!

Summer is here which means; ‘California here we come’! Well, maybe for some of us and, if we’re lucky, for a week or two. But it is the remaining eight weeks that present a challenge of what to do with our kids.  Trying to keep them active can be tough; especially when it reaches 115 degrees outside.

When exploring possibilities of keeping my two kids engaged, I decided to consult directly with them.  Their response spoke volumes as to the challenges we face as parents.  They stated: “it sounds like you want to keep us from being bored.” Yes, they are largely correct, but keeping them active involves more than just avoiding boredom.  It is about stimulating their minds, keeping them moving and encouraging activities that promote health and well-being.

The first thought is typically the pool.  Swimming is a great activity that will certainly fatigue your kids.  But it does get hot out and eventually they will want something else.  Another common staple is the television.  However, allowing our kids to camp out in front of the TV for hours can lead to disengagement and suddenly all other ideas become “boring”.

There are scores of camps around the valley that range from general activities to those focusing on specific topics such as music, art, space or sports.  Camps generally last between one and nine weeks.  Many of the “themed” camps last only a couple of hours a day.

Here are some additional ideas for keeping your kids active and engaged this summer:

Arrange play dates.  When kids are with friends, they have a way of creating their own excitement.  Siblings seem less likely to argue and social skills are developed, benefiting them later in life.  Try encouraging your kids to write and direct their own play and be their enthusiastic audience.

Introduce a new board game.  My seven-year-old daughter loves Monopoly, Upwords and card games.  These games teach math skills, planning, spelling, thought and creativity.

Get moving.  Encourage young ones to exercise with you and get creative.  A favorite for my kids is having an impromptu dance party. Pick some music your kids like, pump it up on the stereo and dance.  Who cares if it’s Justin Bieber and you are playing the same song eight times in a row! Your kids will have a blast; especially when they see you letting loose and acting like a kid again.

Visit a local craft store.  Brands such as Creatology have a variety of wooden models kids can put together without requiring any gluing.  There are also books and kits that teach how to make a number of paper airplanes and origami figurines.  Girls also may like trying out the craft jewelry kits.

Chill out.  There’s an abundance of “cool” things to do around town in air-conditioned buildings such as ice skating, rock climbing, and indoor play areas.  The Science Center has several interactive rooms.  The Musical Instrument Museum is beautiful, entertaining and has an area where kids can play many of the instruments that are on display.

Hit the road.  Plan a day or overnight trip by exploring your state map.  There are plenty of state parks with ruins, petro glyphs, gold mines, and ghost towns to visit. Keep in mind that timing is essential due to the summer heat.

It is important to remember that keeping kids active requires thought and some advance planning by you.  Sometimes our children need to be guided through the day, which means getting involved.  But, that is what makes it even more fulfilling for everyone!

For more information on Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy and Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST®), visit www.foothillsrehab.com.

Can you relate to any of these scenarios?

1. Laundry is piling up, the kids need fed; you have a to-do list a mile long and haven’t had a chance to exercise today.

2. You’ve got a plane to catch and you will be working out of town most of the week. When you are home, you have extra work on your plate and still want to squeeze in family time.

3. You haven’t exercised in months. You feel completely weak and out of shape and don’t know where to start.

Most of us are busy and there are seasons of our lives when getting regular exercise is hard. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely give up.  You can fill in those gaping holes of inactivity with short, efficient exercises that you can do anywhere- anytime.

The first thing you have to do is change your mindset that if you don’t have an hour in the gym you can’t exercise at all. Anything is better than nothing. If you are traveling and/or time crunched you need to remember that 5 minutes of stretching or 10-15 minutes of simple body weight exercises do register on the exercise scale. Every little bit really does help.     

So, here are 3 exercises you can do to keep yourself feeling fresh or to help kick-start your body back in gear after a bit of hibernation!  Click on the pictures for simple “how to” cues or go to our FAST facebook page; www.facebook.com/foothillsfast to see a video demonstration.

1. Squats:  Do 2-3 sets of 12-16 repetitions with an even tempo. Change tempo and do more repetitions for more work.

2. Lunges:  Do 2-3 sets of 12-16 repetitions on each leg in a static lunge stance. Start alternating leg lunges when you feel more comfortable with your balance. To make the lunges more strenuous, change your rhythm and tempo and/or find a step to lunge from.

3. Push-ups:  Do 2-3 sets of 12-16 repetitions.  This is a great upper body and core stabilization exercise. Anyone can do a version of a pushup because you can modify push-ups many ways.  For more instruction on modifying your pushup, check out our FAST trainer video.

You can move through a sequence of push-ups, lunges, squats and work through 3 sets. Transition from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible. This will get your heart rate up a bit and you can knock out 2-3 sets of each exercise in 15 minutes or less!  Not only will you feel better, you will gain and keep some strength and  general fitness.