Hydration with the KidsFit Program

young athlete drinking waterIt’s no secret that adequate hydration is important for people of all ages. Hydration becomes especially important for young athletes who experience significant water loss through sweat from physical activity. Young athletes may be unaware, overexcited, or distracted during practice or games to notice the symptoms of dehydration (noticeable thirst, weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness, or dark yellow urine). Educate your child on the importance of consuming enough water before physical activity to improve sports performance and prevent the onset of dehydration during practice and games.

Why do young athletes need water?

  • Prevents muscle cramping during physical activity
  • Helps regulate body temperature, especially during exercise when body temperature increases
  • Promotes blood flow throughout all muscles of the body, including the heart and lungs

The best way to prevent dehydration is to stay hydrated throughout the day!

Total Daily Water Recommendations

  • 4–8 years old: 56 oz/day
  • 9–13 years old: 72 oz / day (girls), 80 oz/day (boys)
  • 14–18 years old: 80 oz/day (girls), 112 oz/day (boys)
  • Above recommendations include water from beverages and foods with high water content, such as fruits and vegetables.

Fluid Recommendations for Young Athletes

  • Before exercise:
    • 2 hours before: 16 oz of water
    • 1 hour before: 8–16 oz of water
  • During exercise:
    • Every 20 minutes: 4–6 oz of water

Are sports drinks necessary?

  • Water and a balanced diet containing whole grains, lean or plant-based protein, fruits, vegetables, and dairy promote adequate hydration amongst young athletes, making sports drinks unnecessary.
  • Sports drinks, or electrolyte-enhanced beverages, often contain excess added sugars, which can cause nausea, cramps, or diarrhea in children.
  • Sports drinks are only recommended after more than 1 hour of vigorous physical activity.

For different ways to stay hydrated, try adding a few tablespoons of fruit juice to club soda or seltzer water or add your child’s favorite fresh fruits into plain water. We love watermelon, berries, citrus fruits and even cucumbers or mint! Mix and match to find your family’s favorite refreshing combo this summer!

Read more about our KidsFit Pediatric Weight loss Program at RWJBarnabas Health.