Is someone in your house a little moody? A prescription of H2O could be all that they need to improve their mood and keep them safe at practices. Everyone knows what dehydration is. It merely means our bodies are losing more water than we are taking in. We also know that there are major risks with dehydration on our bodies, muscles, and joints, but how much do we really know? Did you know that even mild dehydration can lead to injury? Did you know that anyone can be dehydrated? We often think that only those athletes playing outside in hot weather are at risk, but that is not the case! In fact, new studies have shown that anyone can be dehydrated and the odds are that you are dehydrated right now and may not even know it!
Erica Kenney, from Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, noticed that "kids weren't really drinking that much fluid.” She wondered if that was posing any problems for them. Researchers reported in the American Journal of Public Health that more than half of the several thousand students studied between 2009 and 2012 were at least mildly dehydrated. The Institute of Medicine says children and teenagers should on average consume around three quarts of water a day. That’s 96 ounces!!! Of course this includes all your water needs, so juices, fruits, and vegetables can all help you get the numbers up. Keep in mind that this goal does not include young athletes that should definitely take in more when they are practicing, playing games, or sweating it out in the gym.
Recommendations for helping you get to this amount of fluids are all over the place, and the results are all about water, water, water. KidsHealth says that active kids should drink milk and water with limited 100% fruit juices. Everyone says to limit sugar consumption with sodas, sports drinks, and other sweetened beverages. 96 ounces of popular sports drinks contain around 168 grams of sugar! The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of added sugar a day for adult women and way less for children! Most sodas and sports drinks have much more than this in one serving. So try to avoid getting your hydration on by drinking sugary beverages. Some research even compares the long term risks in sugary drinks to smoking. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want our kids smoking! If you or your child needs a little help choking down the boring water that keeps us alive, flavor it with lemon or lime, or try small amounts of sugar free sweeteners.
So is your child going to fall out at the gym, which is cooled to a perfect 72 degrees, and suffer a major issue with dehydration? Probably not, but researchers have learned a lot more from recent studies that may make you raise an eyebrow and grab your young one and yourself another glass of water. Even mild dehydration may affect our moods and ability to concentrate. In a 2012 study by the University of Connecticut's Human Performance Laboratory it was found that in healthy young women mild dehydration dampened moods, increased fatigue, and led to headaches. It was also said to lead to issues focusing.
So let’s break this down like a true professional and concerned cheerleading coach. First, most kids are mildly dehydrated throughout the day. Well that is not a shock. They need to drink more water! Second, dehydration is bad, but even mild dehydration can have some negative effects. Third, most stunting and tumbling not only require superior athletic ability, they also require 100% of an athlete’s concentration and focus to be performed in the safest manner possible. Finally, even mild dehydration leads to poor moods?! Great! Now over half of our kids are not focused, are tired, and are moody! What can we do???
It is not as simple as just requiring more trips to the water fountain. Most studies suggest that we should be consuming water throughout the day to make sure we stay completely hydrated. That means our kids should be taking in healthy fluids from the time they wake up. So here is a challenge for you! Make sure you and your kids are drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day! I mean, who wants to deal with a more moody child?! We can also keep our kids more focused and safe when they are training. Make sure water is always on the menu!
Diclaimer: We are not doctors or nutritionists. We are merely cheerleading coaches that care a lot about the safety and well-being of our kids. That is why we research ways to keep them safe every day and try our best to make their experience in the gym more fun and more successful. We urge you to do your own research and talk to your doctors and nutritionist about all dietary and health issues with your family.