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Parent Tip: You can lead a horse to water...

Posted on 8/14/2017

Contributed by Carrie Spender, Tumbl Trak Education Coordinator

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.  Or can you?

Many parents of young athletes understand this proverb as we encourage our active kids to drink enough water to stay hydrated.  Summer heat and long sweaty workouts are a dangerous combination for kids who are not taking in enough fluids to replenish what they lose.  Water is essential for all major body functions, and key to peak athletic performance.

We know it is important to drink fluids before, during and after exercise, but how much should our kids be drinking, really??  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends drinking four to eight ounces of water every fifteen to twenty minutes of exercise as a good starting point for hydrating athletes.

The ACSM provides the following guidelines for the maintenance of optimal hydration:

  • Before Exercise: 16-20 ounces within the two-hour period prior to exercise.

  • During Exercise: 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes during exercise.

  • Post Exercise: Replace 24 ounces for every one pound of body weight lost during exercise.

And, while water really is the best option for hydration, parents face an uphill battle against the effective marketing campaigns showing sweaty, superstar athletes guzzling down sugary “sport” drinks.  While it is important to replenish sodium, potassium and other electrolytes, many experts agree that unless your child is an ultra-marathoner or has special conditions, the benefits of sport drinks are not very applicable.

Here’s a few tips for increasing the amount of water your athlete will drink:

  • Make water available at all times via reusable water bottles or, a pitcher in the fridge.  

  • Make drinking water into a game!  Use a permanent marker to draw lines on their water bottle that indicate some “hydration goals” so kids have something to aim for.

  • Add some lemon, berries, or mint leaves to water for a natural, fresh flavor.  Or, freeze berries or mint in ice cubes to add color to the glass.

  • At meals, add a reusable straw to a water glass.  Everything tastes better through a straw!

  • Model good hydration habits for your kiddos and make it a family habit!

For information on keeping your athlete hydrated, check out this blog post from Children’s Health.