In Cold Weather, Dehydration is Still a Concern for Youth Athletes

2012-01-26T18:08:42-05:00Health & Safety, Protecting Your Kids|

Thanksgiving is a mere 48 hours away. Soon enough, millions of families across America will get together to give thanks for the good things in their lives, stuff themselves with turkey and cranberry sauce and gear up for everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving activity, football! This Thanksgiving, if you decide to burn off some of those mashed potatoes and start playing a game of touch football with the family, don’t forget the importance of staying hydrated! Even in cold weather, dehydration should be a concern for youth athletes, sports parents and coaches.

Did you know that dehydration is accelerated in cold weather because the air is drier? When you breathe, your body heats the air up to your body’s temperature, which is why your exhalations look like fog in cold weather. Think about how hard youth athletes are working during their outdoor winter sport! That’s a lot of air to heat up. The danger is that it’s easy to skip water breaks during winter activities because youth athletes are less likely to feel thirsty. Since it is so cool outside they aren’t sweating as much, the normal warning signal that it’s time to take a water break.

Another reason dehydration is a serious concern, even in the winter is that, in an attempt to keep the body warmer the kidneys will eventually produce more urine, resulting in more water loss for your youth athlete. This post from MomsTeam explains,

In an attempt to maintain core temperature, the amount of warm blood the body sends to the arms and legs is decreased in order to reduce the amount of body heat lost to the cold air. By decreasing the amount of blood to the extremities, more warm blood stays in the core region of the body. This eventually leads to the kidneys producing more urine.

Early signs of dehydration may include:

  • Thirst
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramping
  • Irritability
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness

Parents—make sure your youth athletes are bringing enough water to their practices and games! Hopefully grabbing a water bottle is just part of their normal sports routine, but it’s easy to slip into bad habits when you don’t realize the consequences. Explain to your athletes that it is just as important to drink a lot of water now as it was during their summer sports.

Coaches—make sure you are providing sufficient water breaks for your youth athletes this winter. It’s much easier to prevent dehydration than suffer the aftermath of a dehydrated team!