Let’s start with the history of sports drinks. Way back in the 1960’s the University of Florida (FSU) found that football players were losing a lot of weight and electrolytes during the grueling hot practices of summer. Do to heat-related issues some football players needed hospitalization.
FSU developed Gatorade so that athletes could replenish the electrolytes they sweated out during practice. This worked wonders for the players and enhanced their performance.
So what are electrolytes anyway?
An electrolyte is an ion that has an electrical charge that moves either a positive or negative electrode.
When you exercise, your cells need electrolytes. This will help muscles recover.
When you sweat you lose sodium and potassium. Depending on how much you sweat and for how long, sports drinks will help to replace these lost micronutrients.
It all depends on how long your work out and how much you sweat. If your child’s workout is less than an hour and they are not sweating a lot, water is your best bet. “According to the American College of Sports Medicine, exercise lasting 60 minutes or longer may warrant a sports drink”.
How to decide what to give your kids, water or a sports drink? Ask these questions.
How long will the activity last?
Practice can be intense, especially during the summer months. If exercise is less than an hour, water will most likely be excellent. If the training is more than an hour, sports drinks will hydrate and give fuel to those hard-working muscles.
What are the climate conditions?
Practice can be intense, especially during the summer months. If the training is less than an hour, but your child is sweating profusely, a sports drink will replenish those electrolytes that your child is sweating out.
Keep in mind that children can be more at risk for dehydration than adults in hot and humid conditions.
Your child can get too much of a good thing. Sports drinks have calories. Check the label to make sure what they are drinking is right for them. Make a rule that sports drinks are not a replacement for other beverages during non-workout environments.
As a rule of thumb, water, of course, is always a safe bet.