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Winter has ended and the long awaited days of summer have begun. Children are moving their competitions and practices from indoor facilities to the outdoors leaving behind recycled air for fresh air. However, with summer starting and more outdoor activities on the schedule, it is a good idea to make sure your children are well hydrated as they participate in physical activity in hotter weather.

It is important while participating in any physical activity in the heat to be well hydrated for the activity. Drinking water before and during each break in the activity will minimize your chances of dehydration. Children should be consuming liquids before they are thirsty as opposed to after because when thirst hits, they are already dehydrated.

Here are a few pointers you might want to consider before letting your children exercise in the heat.  

  • Check the weather and consider doing the activity early in the morning or late in the evening when it is cooler. 
  • Carry a water bottle or consider bringing fruits such as watermelon and berries.
  • Dress them in lightweight material such as dry fit, light colors and include a hat. 
  • Know your children’s limits in the heat and acclimatize them gradually. 
  • Be aware of dehydration symptoms

Exposure to extreme heat can lead to dehydration causing heat exhaustion, heat cramps and in the worst cases, heat stroke and even death. Dehydration occurs when more fluids, i.e. sweat or urine, leave the body than are replaced. Sweating is important, as it is the mechanism which allows your body to cool off. Urine colour can help to determine how well you are hydrated. Clear or light coloured urine is an indication you are well hydrated and a dark yellow or amber colour is usually a sign of dehydration.

Children are more likely to forget to hydrate during hot summer days. It is critical that parents, coaches or whoever is supervising the physical activities ensure that they keep hydrated. Being outside in the sun is a great way for children to stay fit, learn new skills, make new friends and have fun.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Bergeron M. Youth Sports: Keeping Kids Safe in the Heat. ACSM Fit Society Page. April 2013;15(1):3-4. 
2. Cleary M, Hetzler R, Wasson D, Wages J, Stickley C, Kimura I. Hydration Behaviors Before and After an Educational and Prescribed Hydration Intervention in Adolescent Athletes. Journal Of Athletic Training. May 2012;47(3):273-281. 
3. Johnston Molloy C, Gandy J, Cunningham C, Glennon Slattery C. An exploration of factors that influence the regular consumption of water by Irish primary school children. Journal Of Human Nutrition & Dietetics. October 2008;21(5):512-515. 
4. Nugent L. Sports Drinks. Modern Athlete & Coach. October 2012;50(4):17-18. 
5. Rowland T. Fluid Replacement Requirements for Child Athletes. Sports Medicine. April 2011;41(4):279-288. 
6. von Duvillard S, Arciero P, Tietjen-Smith T, Alford K. Sports Drinks, Exercise Training, and Competition. Current Sports Medicine Reports (American College Of Sports Medicine). July 2008;7(4):202-208. 
7. Williams C, Blackwell J. Hydration Status, Fluid Intake, and Electrolyte Losses in Youth Soccer Players. International Journal Of Sports Physiology & Performance. December 2012;7(4):367-374.
8. Yeargin S, Casa D, Sparrow S, et al. HEAT ACCLIMATIZATION AND HYDRATION STATUS OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL PLAYERS DURING INITIAL SUMMER WORKOUTS. Journal Of Strength & Conditioning Research (Allen Press Publishing Services Inc.). August 2006;20(3):463-470.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.