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AB Conference: For Hydration's Sake, Take Scale to Practice

While many youth sports organizations remain increasingly aware of the importance of keeping their young athletes hydrated during physical activity, Keith Wheeler says they should be doing more.

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"Check their body weight before and after practice," Wheeler, vice president of research and development at Abbott Nutrition, an Abbott Park, Ill.-based maker of sports nutrition products, told a packed house at the Athletic Business Conference in San Diego on Thursday morning. "You can have a 50-pound kid lose two or three pounds during exercise in hot weather. If you want to take a scale to practice, fine - take a scale out there. It's a critical safety issue."

Wheeler repeatedly emphasized this practice, and encouraged youth sports professionals to stress it to parents and players. He recommends participants drink 12 ounces of fluid (water or sports drinks high in electrolytes and carbohydrates, not energy drinks) for every pound of weight lost during practice. "It doesn't take that much time, and it's a good indicator of how much fluid a child is losing during that period," he says. If young athletes do not replenish lost fluids immediately after practice, Wheeler says they might feel weak and take up to 36 hours to fully recover from activity. Additionally, Wheeler recommends that young athletes drink 4 to 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes during practice, and hydrate with 16 to 24 ounces up to four hours before practice.

For more information about hydration in young athletes, click here.

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