What is short, loud, messy, comes in many varieties and contrary to popular belief actually doesn’t sweat? If your answer is “a pig” you’re correct! However that is not the answer I am looking for. Children would be the appropriate response.
Yes it’s true, children do not sweat and therefore are at greater risk for dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Their temperature regulation systems are still immature and that can be dangerous when playing or exercising outdoors. Whether we are looking forward to it or not, Summer is on its way which means increased temperatures (outside and body), no school and a lot more free time to spend outdoors. Here are a few tips to help you keep your children safe from heat related ailments.
1) Instill the importance of drinking plenty of water in your children.
Cold water is the best thing to give a child who has been playing outdoors since it will help bring down their increased body temperature. The longer and harder they play, the higher their core temperature will be thus increasing the need for more water. Schedule water breaks for your kids so it becomes a healthy habit over time.
2) Make sure your children wear appropriate hot weather clothing.
Pick clothes that are light in color. Darker fabrics attract more heat and should be avoided during this time of year if at all possible. Loose clothing is better than tight. The tighter the clothing, the more heat their bodies will hold in. Hats are great for keeping your kids’ faces from getting too much sun, but they also hold in more body heat. Heat escapes from the tops of our heads and by wearing a hat you are making it harder for your body to cool itself down.
3) Avoid beverages loaded with sugar and caffeine.
Not only are they bad for kids nutritionally, but the caffeine will also increase dehydration. If your child drinks a 12-ounce can of a caffeinated soda, they will have to drink 24 ounces of water just to re-hydrate themselves. If they don’t want to drink water all the time, offer them a beverage that contains electrolytes. G2 is the newest sports drink from the Gatorade Company and contains 50% less sugar and calories than traditional Gatorade. They are also the makers of Propel Fitness Water, which also has far fewer calories than other sports drinks and still contains electrolytes/vitamins and flavoring.
4) Be aware of the amount of time children play during the hottest hours of the day.
If they play organized sports, encourage the coach to start practices and games earlier or later in the day. You want to encourage them to play outside, but be mindful if you notice your child’s cheeks getting very red. More often than not, children won’t notice that they are overheating. By the time they realize they aren’t feeling well the damage has already been done.
5) Weigh your children before and after they participate in an outdoor activity.
Although this may seem a little strange for your child, it is a good habit to get into. It is a way for your child to see how much fluid weight they lose during activities and will hopefully encourage them to drink adequate amounts of water.
Follow these tips this summer to ensure your child’s health and safety. In addition to these great tips, you can also put a mud pit in your yard and encourage your children to roll around in it when they get too hot. Just don’t send me the housecleaning bill! Christopher Hillery has been a Certified Personal Trainer for 9 years and is the owner of Transformer Fitness in Phoenix, Arizona. He was once an overweight child and knows first-hand how the effects of being overweight can be damaging. It is his goal to help overweight children and adults develop lasting healthy habits and a positive body image. Chris can design a full workout program for parents and children which can include a nutrition program, along with equipment to use at home.