Skies are clear and the sun is shining, which can only mean one thing: It's time to play outside.
Whether still feeling cooped up from a long winter or a wet spring, active kids are itching to get outside this summer to run, jump, ride bikes and play.
But all that fun doesn't come without risk. Children don't always recognize signs of thirst or take the time to get a drink of water, which puts them at greater risk for dehydration – especially in hot and humid summer conditions. A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health found that nearly 55 percent of participants ages 6 to 19 are inadequately hydrated.
The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends the following for children:
- Ages 4 to 8: 7.5 cups of fluid per day
- Ages 9 to 13: 10 cups of fluid per day
- Girls ages 14 to 18: 10 cups of fluid per day
- Boys ages 14 to 18: 14 cups of fluid per day
Try these tips to keep your ACTIVEkids hydrated this summer:
Foster a culture of hydration.
Teach your kids to get a drink of water before heading outside and immediately when coming inside. Also, make sure they have access to water at all times. Make it fun by allowing them to pick out their own water bottle, which they can fill up and take to a park, sporting event or friend's house. Nothing will encourage a kid to drink more often than his or her favorite character on a bottle.
Eat your water.
Nothing works up a child's appetite quite like playing outdoors. Healthy snacks with high-water content not only satisfy hunger, but also give kids an edge on hydration. Fruits that do double duty include watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches and grapefruit. Add some flair by cutting shapes from watermelon slices using cookie cutters.
But it's not just fruit that packs a hydration punch. Vegetables, such as cucumbers, celery and tomatoes, are made up of lots of water. Instead of serving a vegetable tray to the backyard gang, try raw veggie skewers with grape tomatoes, cucumber pieces and hunks of feta cheese.
What better way to cool off after playing outside than with a freeze pop? The store-bought variety, though, are often filled with sugar and lacking in nutrition. Parents and kids can team up in the kitchen to make their own. Try using a low-sugar sports drink, such as Nuun, and adding diced fruit or fruit pur?e. Fresh herbs, such as basil or mint, can take the pops to the next level. Try fun combinations like a lemonade or lemon-lime flavor with fresh blueberries; orange sports drink with strawberries; and tropical with kiwi and mango.
Find more tips for your ACTIVEkids.