It’s hot out there! We spoke with Registered Dietitian Alissa McLarty and our Supervisor of Sports Medicine Cody Walker about how to stay hydrated in the summer sun. 

Hydration and Kids

Staying hydrated is especially important during the summer to help prevent the risk of heat stress. Children are often more active during summer due to extra free time. Heightened activity combined with high temperatures causes more sweating and an increased need to replace fluids that prevent dehydration.

Sweating is the body's way of maintaining a normal temperature? It cools the body and prevents the excessive build-up of internal heat. Replacing that lost water is essential for our bodies to function properly. Water also aids in the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients, assists in new tissue development and regulates the processes of living cell's and chemical reactions. Staying hydrated can even help improve concentration, focus and mood.

    Even with increased perspiration during the summer, it is possible to stay hydrated by implementing a few key strategies:

  • Carrying a refillable water bottle can encourage and remind children to drink water throughout the day. Adding fun stickers or personalizing the water bottle can help make it more fun to carry and use.
  • Lead by example to better encourage the habit of drinking water. Emphasize water as the beverage of choice!
  • Offer water with each meal and snack to help meet the daily fluid goal, which is generally six to eight glasses of water per day.
  • Drink water before, during and after physical activities.
  • Limit caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, and soda. These beverages can have a dehydrating effect.
  • Add lemon, lime or orange slices to a glass of water for flavor.

Hydration and Athletes

Staying hydrated is important for athletes, especially during summer practices and workouts. Dehydrated athletes not only have an increased risk for heat-related illnesses but can also see reductions in their ability to perform at high levels. Athletes who are better-hydrated perform and recover better after intense rounds of exercise. The key to success is developing an individualized hydration strategy to set the athlete up for success.

    Athletes can maintain proper hydration by utilizing the following tips:

  • An easy way to know if you are well hydrated is to monitor your urine color. A light yellow or clear urine is a sign that you are properly hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow, you are dehydrated and should drink more clear fluids.
  • Start each practice well-hydrated. This may require the athlete to wake up early and consume fluids before morning practices.
  • Hydrate during practice by drinking cool water. Athletes should drink when thirsty because thirst is the body's best way of telling us that we need water.
  • Athletes performing in longer practice or endurance events (such as an hour or more of constant work) can hydrate with fluids containing electrolytes and carbohydrates such as Gatorade. These drinks can help replace lost minerals that happen through sweating.
  • Rehydrate after practice using cool, clear liquids and maintain a well-balanced diet of fruits, veggies and high protein foods. Athletes can track their sweat loss by weighing themselves before and after practice. Athletes should aim to replace every pound of lost weight with 16 to 24 oz. of water.

Sports Medicine at Arkansas Children's 

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