Summer weather means more beach days, more picnics and more outdoor fun with family and friends. But when temperatures and humidity levels spike, being outdoors can get uncomfortable — especially during exercise.
As a pediatric specialist in the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Sports Medicine Program, I enjoy helping young athletes by providing care for everything from concussions to rehab to keeping kids healthy on the playing field. While recent research confirms that kids’ bodies handle heat and humidity in a similar way to adults, it’s still important to help kids stay healthy while participating in physical activity and sports in hot weather.
To avoid dehydration and heat illness, make sure kids are hydrated before exercise. Offer water or other healthy beverages and hydrating foods like fruit during the day prior to activity.
During games or exercise:
It’s also a parent’s job to advocate for safe sporting policies at schools and in leagues. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and communicate with coaches to be sure the following best practices are being followed:
The first result of dehydration in kids will be reduced performance on the field. While nobody wants that, more severe consequences call for immediate action.
Watch for these signs of heat illness:
Any of these signs are reasons for kids to immediately stop participation and get appropriate medical attention, including rest and hydration. Kids with heat illness should not return to practice or competition for the rest of the game.
If you have concerns about your child, including persistent cramping during exercise, be sure to talk to your pediatrician.