In Australia, we are fortunate to have amazingly warm temperatures for a large portion of the year, with average temperatures of 30°C during summer and 15°C in winter. In July 2017, the mean maximum temperature for Australia’s winter was reported to have a new highest record, which was 0.66°C above the previous record 42 years ago! Spring is fast approaching, so parents, coaches, trainers and teachers have to be vigilant in encouraging an optimal hydration status in the athletic youth.
Water is essential for life and plays a prime role in maintaining chemical reactions within the body.
“Water and electrolyte balance are critical for the function of all organs and indeed, for maintaining health in general.”1
The largest source of water intake is gained from the fluids we drink. Water can also be obtained from food.
Water consumption recommendation
Children and adolescents should drink approximately 1 litre or 5 glasses for 5 to 8 years of age; 1.5 litres or 7 glasses of water for 9 to 12 years of age; and 2 litres or 10 glasses for 13 years and older.
Poor water consumption
Inadequate water intake will change cell volume, which will negatively influence the transporting of nutrients and waste.2
Past studies have shown that losses of water as small as 2% of body weight can:
- Significantly increase the physiologic strain3
- Decrease exercise performance4,5
- Negativity interfere with the maintenance of core internal body temperatures influenced by high aerobic fitness6
- Interfere with heat adaptation7
Athletic youth and heat adaptation
A study published in the Pflügers Archiv: European Journal of Physiology has shown that:
“Children exhibit lower maximal aerobic capacity, higher adiposity and less sweat than do adults when exercising in a warm environment.”8
Therefore, athletic youth have:
“Faster heat absorption from the environment when ambient temperature exceeds skin temperature.” 8
“Consumption of water can enhance performance in young children exercising in the heat.”1
In all ages, water consumption is important in normal daily activities of living. A general rule of thumb: you have consumed enough water for the day if your urine is clear. Do not let your body dehydrate! However, water intake should be increased under physical demands such as exercise, and especially in warm temperatures.
Solutions to ensure adequate water consumption during sporting activities:
- Education on hydration and its benefits
- Urine colour chart mounted in school bathroom facilities
- Improve water accessibility