We’ve all heard the “eight glasses a day” to help stay hydrated. We all lead different lifestyles and can often forget to stay hydrated if we are busy. So what can we do to ensure that our children are taking enough fluid on board. Being aware of their own hydration status, and how to keep on top of it, is easier than you think and essential to maximising performance.
Benefits of Staying Hydrated
Desbrow et al. (2014) explored hydration in young athletes. Compared with adults, children and adolescents do not seem to regulate their body temperature well, particularly in the heat. Children gain more heat and appear to have a lower exercise tolerance when hot. They also lose more heat on a cold day, whilst having reduced sweating capabilities as noted by Meyer, O’Connor, & Shirreffs (2007). For general activities, sports drinks are likely unnecessary. However, if taking part in long, tough training sessions or competitions, carbohydrate and electrolyte drinks may provide some recovery benefits.
Dehydration could negatively affect performance and health (Sawka, Cheuvront, & Kenefic, 2015). The goal of post-exercise fluid recovery is to restore fluid balance before the next session.
- Carry a water bottle – possibly the easiest way to stay hydrated, you can get reusable 500 ml water bottles almost anywhere nowadays. If your children are out at school, or on the way to training or out socialising, the humble water bottle is not to be underestimated.
- Urine Look! – They can monitor their own hydration can be looking at the colour of their urine. If it’s a dark yellow colour, this is generally an indicator of dehydration. If their urine is clear, they are likely well-hydrated and should keep on top of their drinking throughout the day. The chart below is a great guide.
- Little and often – it’s much wiser to drink little and often, hence the “eight glasses a day” idea. Imagine you gulp down a 500 ml bottle of water, and then have none left for the next two hours. Yes, you will likely be hydrated having drank the water, but the fact you wouldn’t have any for the next two hours could mean you’d be dehydrated! Little and often – stay on top of it.
Overall, drinking cool fluids like water and milk in sufficient quantities before, during and after participation in sport is beneficial for young athletes. Focus on hydration by monitoring your urine, aim for see-through wee and you’re a winner! Happy hydrating!
“Be Great Hydrate, was written alongside our partners at Youth Sport Nutrition, who are the market leaders in youth athlete nutrition, delivering innovative sports nutrition products and educational programmes across the UK”