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Summer Fitness & Kids

by Michele | June 16th, 2009 | Elementary

childrens-healthcareSummer vacation either has arrived or is right around the corner.  While it is important that children get some sort of exercise daily, it also is important to take precautions when the temperatures are hot.  I was able to speak with Diane King, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics and Certified Athletic Trainer, from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Sports Medicine.

When dealing with summer heat and exercise, it is very important to make sure your child is hydrated.  According to Ms. King, “An important thing to remember is that thirst is not a good indicator of when to drink.  By the time a child notices they are thirsty, they are already in early stages of dehydration.  And at that point, it may take a while to replace these losses.  Children have a considerably lower sweating capacity than adults.  Because of a greater ratio of body surface area to body mass, children absorb heat more quickly when the ambient temperature exceeds skin temperature. So they overheat more quickly especially if they have not been out in the heat much.”

For tips on how much fluid your child needs to stay hydrated, Ms. King referenced the Beverage Institute’s guidelines. The recommended amounts are:

  • 12-16 ounces- 2 hours before start
  • 8 ounces- 15 minutes before start
  • 4-6 ounces every 20 minutes

“Sipping fluids every 15-20 minutes makes it easier on the tummy/gut, too. Gulping a lot of water all at once can slosh around depending on the activity. If they are drinking water from a water fountain, it’s hard to estimate the actual amount although in general, the estimate is 1/2 – 1 ounce per gulp.  So kids will say they had a lot to drink and it could turn out to be very little.”

It is important not only that children stay hydrated but also that they don’t overheat.  If children are involved in outdoor exercise or sports, there are several precautions that can be taken when the temperature rises.  Some of Ms. Kings’ suggestions were:

  • Adjust the practice schedule accordingly.
  • Schedule training sessions to avoid the hottest part of the day (10am to 5pm).
  • Avoid radiant heating from direct sunlight especially in the acclimatization period.

Don’t forget to apply sunblock and keep hydrated, and then let your kids enjoy the outdoors and exercise all summer long!

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