Lifestyle: Fitness

Surviving Summer Sport Practice

kids playing soccerkids playing soccer

by Tracey Pollack

Win at Keeping Kids Safe During Summer Sports Practice

Have a sporting chance of keeping your kids calm, cool and protected when they’re playing summer sports.

School’s out. Sun’s out. So it’s only natural that your kids will be out in the sun all summer playing sports of all sorts. But practicing for hours beneath the hot sun can turn summer into a bummer by playing with their health and safety. As a parent, you need to take extra precautions to keep your kids safe and healthy when they’re active in summer sports. Luckily, helping your kids beat the heat—and the burns, bugs, dehydration, and sleep deprivation—from the sun and the strain of practice is child’s play when you put these summer sport tips into practice.

 

  1. Play it Safe with Hydration

Water, water everywhere, but are your kids drinking enough during summer sports? It’s not just about quenching their thirst, but about quenching the body’s hydration needs. The more they sweat, the more fluids their bodies are losing as they focus on winning their games. As a result, they can get dehydrated, which affects their health and athletic performance by making them tired, weak, dizzy, moody, and achy. Encourage your kids to drink more fluids before, during, and after both practice and games. If your kids find drinking plain water hard to swallow, add fruit for flavor, or look for low- to no-sugar sports drinks that you can cut in half with water. Fruits and veggies like watermelon, berries, and cucumbers are also refreshing ways to meet their hydration needs.

 

  1. Be Proactive About Protein

For kids, a healthy diet demands fruits, veggies, protein, whole grains, and healthy fats, but the demands that summer sports put on your child’s body increases their need for protein. See, protein helps repair damaged muscles and rebuild new muscle tissue, which is important for young athletes. That’s why it’s a pro move for your child to consume more protein from fish, lean meats, poultry, dairy products, eggs, beans, nuts, and non-GMO soy products. For extra protein, supplement their diets with high-quality protein shakes and low sugar protein bars.

 

  1. Be a Good Sport About Sleep

Without the need to wake up early for school, you can give strict bedtime schedules a rest, but kids still need to get enough sleep, especially young athletes. Skimping on sleep not only affects their health by making kids more likely to get sick and injured, but also comes into play with their sports performance by leaving them with less energy, focus, and accuracy during the sports they love. Kids between the ages of six and twelve need nine to twelve hours of sleep each day, while teens aged thirteen to eighteen require eight to ten hours daily. When they snooze, they win!

 

  1. Practice Safety in the Sun

The summer sun is an even bigger opponent than your child’s rival team. Long hours beneath the sun can leave your child with serious sunburns that can raise their risk of skin cancer later in life. The best defense is applying sunscreen every time your kids go to practice or play outdoors. But not all sunscreens are winners for kids. Look for sunscreens with the following lingo on the label:

  • SPF 30 or higher

  • Broad-spectrum protection, which means that they shield both UVA and UVB rays

  • Water-resistant formulas

  • Non-Toxic—no chemicals. Look for mineral sunscreens using zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide

After selecting a sunscreen, apply it 15 minutes before kids leave the house. Then reapply it every two hours, as well as after sweating, swimming, or drying off with a towel. Along with sunscreen, kids should also sport sunglasses with UV protection, wide-brimmed hats, and lightweight clothes in light colors.

 

  1. Score Insect Repellent

Insects, ticks, and mosquitoes can do more than bug your kids during practice. These creepy-crawlies can carry diseases like Zika, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and others. Protect them from itchy bites, scratchy rashes, and serious sickness by spraying them with insect repellent before every practice and game. Be sure to use non-toxic, deet-free repellent. And when they get home, check them for ticks, especially if they’ve been playing on grassy fields or in wooded areas. Your kids may think you’re being a pest, but you’re just protecting them from those.

 

You want your child to enjoy everything under the sun this summer, especially their favorite sports. With these summer sport tips for keeping your child healthy and safe, it’s game on!

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