Summer is still going, and summer sports are still in full swing. Fall sports (and school!) are on the horizon, and the weather in both of these seasons can be sunny, hot, and dehydrating. Playing sports in the warmer seasons (and really all year long) requires the proper hydration to keep you or your kids feeling good and playing great. Read on for why hydration is so important, and what steps you can take to ensure that you are getting enough water. Why is Hydration so Important? Our bodies do not store water, and need a constant supply of it to stay healthy and maintain bodily functions. Even though water does not contain any calories, it is considered a vital nutrient that makes up more than 50 percent of our bodies. Water aids in blood circulation, carries oxygen to cells, regulates body temperature and is a cooling agent for the body. More than this, water helps your body remove wastes and toxins, helps the body absorb nutrients, moisturizes the skin, and protects and cushions organs. Water is essential to human health, and the more energy you expend the more water you need. Athletes are particularly vulnerable to becoming dehydrated, and need to pay special attention to the signs of dehydration. How to Spot Dehydration Everyone has experienced being particularly thirsty after vigorous physical activity, but there are more serious complications to being dehydrated. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are all more serious consequences of dehydration. When you become dehydrated, your body temperature rises, and the heart rate increases. Your mouth may dry out, your eyes may look sunken, and you can be irritable and have a drastic lack of energy. Your performance can decrease as well, and your strength, energy, coordination, and reflexes can become impaired. The other telltale sign of dehydration is dark-colored urine, and if you are not urinating frequently, or if your urine is not light-colored, you may be dehydrated. Being able to spot dehydration is especially important for parents and coaches of young athletes, who can dehydrate more quickly than adults due to the way their body water is distributed. Being on the lookout for early signs of dehydration can prevent more serious complications. Heat Illness If you do experience dehydration, heat illness will occur in three stages. Heat cramps are the first stage, and this is where you would feel excessively thirsty, and have cramps in the stomach, arms, or legs. Sports games in hot weather can easily produce heat cramps, and they should be treated before they become more serious, and you move into the next stage of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion includes headache, dizziness, nausea, and muscle cramps. This is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, and parents and coaches should watch for these warning signs in children. The last stage of heat illness is heat stroke, and your body temperature can spike to dangerously high levels (104 degrees or higher), you may vomit, and have rapid, shallow breathing. The stages of heat illness can rapidly progress, and you need to spot the signs early so that more serious complications don’t occur. Prevent Dehydration Obviously, you need to drink water to prevent becoming dehydrated. Especially in young athletes, this can be hard to regulate, and you might not know how much water is really enough. Take into consideration the temperature, humidity, the length of a game or practice, and any heavy gear that your athlete may be wearing that increases the amount that they sweat. A general rule is to drink 4 to 8 ounces of water for every fifteen to twenty minutes of exercise. But it is also important to enter into any sporting activities properly hydrated to have the best possible start. Having your children drink water throughout the day is important, and it is easier to get hydrated first and then maintain that hydration than to go into a sports activity already lacking water. Water can also come from foods, and juicy fruits are especially great at adding in needed water to the system (think watermelon or oranges). During sporting events, sports drinks can be really good for providing both carbohydrates and electrolytes that are lost when you sweat. Water doesn’t supply these essential nutrients, and getting kids to drink sports drinks may be easier than plain water. Always having a water bottle nearby can help young and old athletes to remember to drink enough water, and making sure that bottle is empty at the end of a game can help parents regulate how much their kids are drinking. So get out there this summer and fall and perform your best with the proper hydration! Fueling your body is essential for peak performance on the field, and getting a custom team uniform is essential to looking your best while playing! Moneyball Sportswear is proud to offer high quality custom uniforms for every sport! You keep an eye on your hydration levels, and let us take care of your new sports uniform!