Back to School Sports Survival Tip #1: Include A Water Jug for Hydration

With August comes the end of summer vacation, the start of back to school shopping and scorching days despite the torrential rainstorms that traditionally take over Florida’s summer afternoons.

August is also traditionally when high school and college sports athletes and band members take to the fields under the hot sun. It is one of the more vulnerable times for athletes and musicians as they struggle to stay cool and keep hydrated. 

University of Florida experts at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science share concerns and suggestions with parents, teachers and students on how they can prevent the last of the dog days of summer from taking a bite out of our kids and their health.

“When our bodies get dehydrated, we lose the ability to regulate body temperature, making us susceptible to heat illness which is just the beginning of what can go wrong very quickly,” said Brenda Marty-Jimenez, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agent in Broward County who specializes in family and consumer sciences.

“Not only does dehydration have negative impacts on exercise performance, but without proper water intake, the body can lose water and essential elements running the risk of kidney problems or even death,” adds Marty-Jimenez, a certified nutritionist and registered dietician.

In a University of Florida document that debunks the myths on hydration, experts list the important functions that water has in our bodies including:

  • delivering nutrients to cells,
  • removing waste products from the body,
  • helping body organs work properly,
  • cushioning joints, and
  • regulating body temperature.

The co-authors of the document also cite research debunking the myth that dehydration is not that serious.

“Studies have shown that losing as little as 2% of body weight due to dehydration can cause decreased alertness, slower response time, and impaired memory, reasoning, and ability to do math (Institute of Medicine, 2005). Inadequate water intake can increase your risk for kidney stones, gallstones, and certain infections, and it can cause fainting and even death in severe cases.”

As students take to the fields for practice, experts remind parents and teachers as well to keep everyone hydrated with the following recommendations:

  • Start your day with a cup of water.
  • Keep a gallon jug of water nearby. It is easy to remember to drink water when the source is visible. You can also see how much you drink in a day as the water level decreases.
  • Use water intake trackers or downloaded apps to help you monitor your daily fluid intake.
  • If you have trouble drinking water throughout the day, aim to drink one or two cups of water with each meal.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

“Our daily water intake comes from many sources,” adds Marty-Jimenez. “Water-rich foods—such as soups, fruits, and vegetables— can also provide your body with water. Milk, soup, juice, fresh fruits and vegetables all contain water. “

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