Saturday, July 28, 2012

Second Easiest Way To Improve Sports Performance

We all instinctively know that sleep is essential for our overall health and wellness but we tend to push through our “sleepiness” and attempt to give ourselves a jolt with things like coffee and energy drinks.  Chronic lack of sleep has a cumulative effect, so you cannot skimp on sleep on weekdays and then try to "catch up" over the weekend. 

Sleep is vital to our long-term health because it is the window of time that allows for the body to repair and restore itself.  Why do you think teenagers sleep so much and for long periods of time?  It’s not because they are always lazy!  They are experiencing rapid rates of growth and development and the only way that can take place is when the body is at rest.  Sleep is their bodies’ innate instinct that it needs time to grow.  Sleep is so powerful that it can even overcome genetic factors.

A new study of 1,800 pairs of twins found that even if you're genetically predisposed to being overweight, there is one easy thing you can do to put yourself in control of how much weight you gain.

As reported by CNN, researchers found that genes accounted for 70 percent of the differences in body mass index (BMI) in those who slept less than seven hours per night. Environmental factors, such as diet and exercise, accounted for just four percent of the differences. But in twins who slept nine or more hours per night, environmental factors shot up to 51 percent, and genetic influences dipped to 32 percent. So, sleep deprivation appears to have a significant influence over your genetic expression.

According to CNN Health:

"Getting adequate sleep, in other words, appears to dampen genetic risk and allow the influence of diet, exercise, and other controllable lifestyle factors to "surface," the researchers say." [1]

New data from researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows not getting enough sleep can increase the risk for stroke symptoms in people with a healthy body mass index who are at low risk for obstructive sleep apnea and have no history of stroke.

“We adjusted for many possible factors that could explain this increase, including hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep disordered breathing and being overweight or obese,” explains Megan Ruiter, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and a UAB post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine.

“Despite controlling for other known stroke risk factors, we still found the association between sleeping less than six hours and reporting stroke symptoms, like sudden body weakness or numbness or deficits in vision,” says Ruiter.

Sleep specialist Susan Harding, M.D., who was not involved with this study, says these findings do not come as a surprise to her.

“Short sleep duration is already associated with cardiovascular death and other cardiovascular related events,” says Harding, director of UAB’s Sleep/Wake Disorders Center. “What is different with this study is that it specifically looked at people who are at a normal weight, which means they are less likely to have diabetes – which is a stroke risk factor – and found they are still at increased risk of stroke symptoms.” [2]

Sleeping well is one of the cornerstones of optimal health, and if you ignore your poor sleeping habits, you will, in time, pay a price. In general, you will feel best and maintain optimal health when your lifestyle is in line with your circadian rhythm. (Internal biological clock) It's wise to establish healthful routines of eating, exercising and sleeping, and to stick to them every day, including the weekends.

Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is such a chronic condition these days that you might not even realize you suffer from it. Your circadian rhythm has evolved over many years to align your physiology with your environment. However, it operates under the assumption that you are behaving as your ancestors did. Historically, humans have slept at night and stayed awake during the day. If you stay up late at night, depriving yourself of sleep, you send conflicting signals to your body.

As a result, you body gets confused and doesn't know whether it should be producing chemicals to help you sleep, or gear up for the beginning of a new day.

Without good sleep, optimal health may remain elusive, even if you eat well and exercise (although those factors will tend to improve your ability to sleep better). Aside from directly impacting your immune function, another explanation for why poor sleep can have such varied detrimental effects on your health is that your circadian system "drives" the rhythms of biological activity at the cellular level. Hence disruptions tend to cascade outward throughout your entire body. For example, besides impairing your immune function and raising your cancer risk, interrupted or impaired sleep can also:

·      Increase your risk of heart disease.           
·      Harm your brain by halting new cell production.
·      Sleep deprivation can increase levels of corticosterone (a stress hormone), resulting in fewer new brain cells being created in your hippocampus.
·      Aggravate or make you more susceptible to stomach ulcers.           
·      Contribute to a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you've already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight.
·      Raise your blood pressure.           
·      Contribute to premature aging by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep.
·      Increase your risk of dying from any cause. [3]

Are Sleeping Pills A Viable Option…

If you have trouble sleeping, you're not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) 2010 "Sleep in America Poll," only four in 10 respondents said they got a good night's sleep every night, or almost every night, of the week. [4] But please don't make the mistake of resorting to sleeping pills. At best, they're ineffective. At worst, they can be dangerous.

According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data, over-the-counter sleep products such as Tylenol PM and Excedrin PM don't offer any significant benefit to patients. In 2007, an analysis of sleeping pill studies financed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that sleeping pills like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata reduced the average time to go to sleep by just under 13 minutes compared with sugar pills -- hardly a major improvement.

Skimping on Sleep to Work Out Could Backfire

While I do recommend exercising first thing in the morning, I don't advise sacrificing sleep to do so. Fortunately, you don't have to! The research that has emerged over the past several years clearly indicates you don't need to exercise for long periods of time—as long as you're exercising with a purpose! Both young children and animals clearly demonstrate the proper way to exercise: in short but aggressive or intense spurts with rest in between.

High intensity interval training using an elliptical machine or stationary bike or running sprints can mimic this, and a growing body of research tells us the benefits from exercising this way are FAR greater than slow, long-distance forms of exercise. Interval training can dramatically improve your cardiovascular fitness and fat-burning capabilities in a fraction of the time.  I also like doing resistance/body-weight circuits where you pick 5-6 exercises and cycle through them as many times as possible in the time you have available.  This approach is especially effective for those who dislike traditional “cardio.”

A high intensity interval session only requires about 20 minutes or less, two or three times a week, opposed to an hour or more on the treadmill, several times a week. Most people can carve out 20 minutes without losing sleep over it. As mentioned above, getting enough sleep is an important aspect of health, and lack of sleep can hamper weight loss efforts and contribute to a wide range of health problems.

In order to benefit your health, you need to be consistent in your sleeping habits.

As a general rule, adults need between six and eight hours of sleep every night. However, there are plenty of exceptions. Also, as the study on twins suggests, you may need upwards of nine hours a night in order for it to outweigh certain genetic predispositions, by allowing your body to reap maximum benefits from a healthy diet and exercise regimen. The amount of sleep you need may also drastically change depending on your circumstances, such as illness or going through an emotionally stressful time.

Pregnant women also typically need more sleep than usual during the first trimester. My advice is to pay close attention to your body, mind and emotional state. For example, if you consistently feel tired upon waking, you probably need to sleep longer. Frequent yawning throughout the day is another dead giveaway that you need more shut-eye.

Optimizing Your Sleep Sanctuary

There are many factors that can influence your sleep, but one that many fail to consider is the use of light-emitting technology, such as your TV, iPad, and computer, before going to bed. These emit the type of light that will suppress melatonin production, which in turn will hamper your ability to fall asleep. Ideally, you'll want to turn all such light-emitting gadgets off at least an hour prior to bedtime.  Next, making some adjustments to your sleeping area can also go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep:

Cover your windows with blackout shades or drapes to ensure complete darkness. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin, thereby disrupting your sleep cycle.
So close your bedroom door, get rid of night-lights, and refrain from turning on any light during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. If you have to use a light, install so-called "low blue" light bulbs in your bedroom and bathroom. These emit an amber light that will not suppress melatonin production.

Keep the temperature in your bedroom at or below 70 degrees F (21 degrees Celsius). Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees F (15.5 to 20 C). Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep.

Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your head. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least three feet.  [5]

One of my favorite phrases in regard to youth fitness/athletic development specifically and overall health and wellness for all ages generally; “pick the lowest hanging fruit first.”  What this simply means is that rather than stressing out about whether your child has the best strength, speed, or sport skill training address the things that can make a difference right now.  The fastest way to optimize performance and separate you from the competition on the field of play and in the game of life is mastering the basics first.  Nutrition is the fastest way to do this because every time you eat something it affects your performance; positively or negatively and it’s done at minimum three times a day.   But getting proper rest is a close second and given the recent research findings the gap is closing in my mind.  The pillars of athletic development should be nutrition and sleep habits.  These are two factors that are absolutely within your control.  If you have had trouble getting bigger and stronger it’s not because of your lifting program.  Without proper nutrition and recovery time the task of adding strength, muscle mass and explosive power is greatly diminished!

“People just don’t realize how important sleep is, and what the health consequences are of not getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis… Sleep is just as important for overall health as diet and exercise.”
–Carl Hunt, MD, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health


I touched on it briefly above but working out in the morning is a great strategy because not only do you get it out the way early but it also sets you up for having an extremely productive day.  There are a few things to consider however when training in the morning and I will address them next week.

Phil Loomis
Youth Fitness/Nutrition Specialist


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sports Medicine Trends and Your Kids

I wanted to share with you some of the news and trends that came out last week after an annual meeting of top sports medicine professionals.  These topics should be of great interest because they provide clues and warnings of conditions that are affecting developing young athletes nation wide.

Researchers presenting their work at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine highlighted a common, painful hip condition in elite athletes.

Labral tears in the hip are often associated with a traumatic injury, such as dislocation, but researchers say they are increasingly seeing hip issues due to repetitive motions and underlying structural abnormalities.

“The proper function of the labrum in the hip is a critical component of mobility for any athlete. When this area gets hurt, repair can be difficult,” said research author, Marc J. Philippon, MD, of the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, Colorado.

The above study ties in nicely to the topic of sports hernias that were also covered at the AOSSM meeting.

A sports hernia is a common cause of groin pain in athletes, however until lately little has been known as to why they occur.

Researchers presenting their study today at the AOSSM Annual Meeting suggest that a type of hip condition, Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI) might be a contributing cause.

“Our study illustrated that those patients with FAI tend to have a change in hip biomechanics which in turn leads to increased stress across the groin. With these stresses a sports hernia (tear to the oblique abdominal muscles), is more likely to occur,” said lead author, Kostas Economopoulos, MD from the University of Virginia Department of Orthopaedics.

“We hope that our study encourages physicians who see sports hernia and chronic groin pain in athletes to further investigate the possibility of FAI and in turn can recommend better treatment options for this puzzling condition,” said Economopoulos.

It’s widely debated whether those with FAI are born with it, or whether it becomes part of normal development in some kids.  Well, I guess it would depend on whether you consider playing one sport to excess year-round “normal.”

Based upon anecdotal evidence (my experience and others in my circle of influence) I would estimate that over 90% of the FAI cases have come in hockey, soccer, and baseball players.  What do these sports have in common?  The demands of each of these sports force athletes to adopt poor pelvic alignment.  Not a big deal if they played sports seasonally and gave their bodies a break but the incidence of FAI and associated hip issues has increased dramatically since the AAU generation rolled in and kids played the same sport 10-12 months of the year!

It is likely that if you screened these athletes early in the season and assigned them a quality-training program to address the demands of their sport (restoring neutrality to the pelvis) these problems could be prevented.

Conversely, a “dead lift-squat-bench” program (standard protocol at most high schools) is a recipe for feeding the pelvic dysfunction that contributes to FAI in the first place and will likely bring about pain and injury more rapidly.

And along with this perspective is the realization that an entire generation of young athletes have been so mismanaged that we’ve actually created a new classification of developmental problems and pathologies: FAI, labral tears, and sports hernias that have the sports medicine community “puzzled.”

Also making news at the AOSSM meeting last week; U.S. Army researchers made a surprising discovery while examining the impact of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear (a common knee injury), on four indicators associated with cartilage health. The researchers found that pre-injury concentrations for all but one of the four indicators studied were associated with the subsequent likelihood of ACL injury.  U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steven Svoboda, M.D., during his presentation, stated, “ff we can identify people predisposed to ACL tears, one day we may be able to prevent injuries before they occur.”

ACL tears are endemic, with 150,000 ACL injuries in the U.S. each year among military personnel, athletes and others with physically demanding careers or pursuits. Several recent studies have shown that high-risk biomechanical movement patterns, specifically excessive knee valgus angle during landing – or landing knock-kneed – causes increased pressure on the joint. “Our study adds to existing knowledge by raising the possibility of a link between risky movement patterns and biochemical processes associated with cartilage metabolism,” added Dr. Svoboda. “Coaches and athletic trainers of the future may help athletes with high biomarker levels reduce their risk of ACL injury by improving their balance and motor control or correcting how they jump and land.”

The study also has implications for the study of post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) because a high percentage of those who experience ACL tears go on to develop PTOA.

Patients who undergo repeated anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions, or repeat vision surgery, are unlikely to return to prior activity levels despite showing basic functional improvement according to research being presented at the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine’s (AOSSM) Annual Meeting.

One of the 3 Pillars of my youth fitness/athletic development practice is injury –prevention screenings or assessments and the above studies are evidence of why it’s a point of emphasis for me.  Most youth sport injuries are preventable in nature, some health care providers believe that approximately 50% of overuse injuries sustained by young athletes could be prevented if children were better prepared to play the game. [1]

The best way to safeguard children from injury is following a progressive and multi-faceted fitness “education” that is focused on long-term wellness over short-term results.  Absent that, and I am afraid this is just as essential now based upon the fact that basic levels of fitness in children have declined significantly, are injury prevention screenings and a conditioning program that provides what children aren’t getting in school and from sport specific participation. [2]

Injury prevention is a point of emphasis for me because a damaged body never runs as efficiently as the original with all of it’s own parts intact.  Not to mention that surgeries can be quite expensive and as indicated by the ACL research above often lead to degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis.

To summarize children play to train instead of training to play.  Because children don’t play or rotate sports seasonally their basic movement foundation is lacking and they aren’t equipped to handle the demands of excessive sport participation.  As evidenced by the topics at the AOSSM meeting the current youth sport culture is a major contributor to new classifications of injuries and pathologies.

The answer is diversity of experience particularly for young athletes under the age of 15.  For more advanced athletes in the mid-to-late teen years, injury prevention screenings and training programs that counteract the demands of excessive sport participation have become a necessity.


Dr. William Levine, chairman of the STOP Sport Injuries campaign, summarizes the above information very well in this short video:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

As in Sport, As in Life

I ran across an article in the Detroit News this week and the subject was a program that is being used to revive participation and interest in youth baseball within the city.  Very interesting article and I will link to it below if you are interested in the full story.  However there was a statement in the article by a Detroit high school coach that really caught my attention:

"(The program) is helping build an interest in baseball, but as the kids get older, sports like basketball, soccer and football become more prevalent. By the time they get to the 12-14 range, a lot of the other coaches — some, but not all — make the kids make a decision on what sports to play."

Unfortunately I hear this idea that kids need to choose their sport by the age of 12 years old way to often.  In fear of sounding like a broken record, the earliest a young athlete should choose a sport is freshman year in high school and even then I believe it’s not ideal for their long-term athletic development.  Kids need diversity throughout the year to allow time for their body and minds to recover.  Not to mention the diverse tools that are added to their athletic foundation will absolutely transfer to their sport of choice.  The only time a parent/coach should intercede and make a decision regarding a child’s sport participation is to pull back on the reins if they are getting excessive exposure to one sport.  Aside from the physical demands imposed on kids by early specialization it’s also been my experience that one-sport athletes put way too much pressure on themselves and lean toward obsessive-compulsive behavior.  They need a break so they don’t eat themselves alive by over-competing. [1]

I also read any article this week about the Detroit Tigers hitting coach that provided an excellent example of prudent coaching.  Lloyd McClendon is catching a lot of heat this summer for the teams hitting struggles.  In an attempt to defend himself McClendon stated:

“We try to arm them with every piece of information as far as what a guy is going to do. After that it is up to the player to get it done."

What kind of information do the players get?

They are given: downloads on each opposing pitcher for their computers or iPads; a cheat sheet that includes pitches each pitcher likes to throw on certain counts, what their out pitch is, what they throw when they are in a jam and what they like to throw when there is nobody on and two outs.

And, there is a general hitters meeting along with individual ones at the batting cage and film room study. Basically, everything imaginable. 

Have you ever heard of paralysis by analysis?  Overloading an athlete with to much information (over-coaching) is a sure fire way to tip the scales away from athletic instinct and reflex and toward stifled and delayed timing and reaction.  The wise old manager Jim Leyland has more sage advice for his coaches:

"You usually don't mess with the players during a game," Leyland said. "You show them afterward. When a guy is not doing something, you say here is why. Here is the tape." [2]

I can speak from experience and your children will likely echo my thought; coaching from the stands or sidelines by shouting at a player never works!  Whatever you say will not be useful while they are in the game it will only serve to distract and add to their competitive stress.  Not to mention it often embarrasses kids to be called out in front of teammates, opponents and even strangers.  Do your coaching at practice and when the game starts role out the balls and let the kids have at it, it’s their time. 

I am not claiming that absolutely no coaching should go on during a game but any advice that is given should be provided quietly and individually on the sidelines or on the bench and should be short and succinct.  Example:  “That was a tough play Joey, next time that happens if you stay in the tunnel (lower your athletic stance) I know you can make the play next time.”  That advice is non-threatening potentially calms the athlete’s anxiety over a mistake and you have provided a useful cue that is easy to understand.

Sport can be an ideal vehicle for the delivery of key concepts to children and parents alike.  In just one day, and they just happened to be the only two articles I read, two key concepts of youth sport participation were highlighted; early specialization and over-coaching.  While baseball was the example in the articles these two concepts are applicable to all sports.  I challenge you the next time you are reading the sports page to find a key lesson that can be applied to the athletic development of your child.  And often the lessons we learn in sport are just as applicable to the game of life.  Use sport for the overall benefit and development of your child, that’s what the sport experience should be about.

Food For Thought:

Do Kids Need Supplements?

An interesting study recently revealed that younger children (2-8 years of age) tend to have adequate nutrient intakes regardless of supplement use.  Further, the study reveals that older children (over 8 years of age) tend to be deficient in certain nutrients (magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins A, C, and E) that are made adequate with the use of supplements.  However, while a deficit was resolved through the use of supplements, these same supplements also lead to excess intake of other nutrients.  [1] I have covered my thoughts on supplements in the recent past but the short version is that supplements that are isolated and added to food or squeezed in to a capsule or pill are inferior to the nutrients obtained through the consumption of whole foods.

In my mind this study reinforces my opinion because supplements provide nutrients in an environment in which they normally do not exist with other co-factors like enzymes and fiber that are found in whole foods.  And it is my strong opinion that the reason nutrients like vitamin C are so effective is because they come naturally packaged in ideal ratios with these nutrient co-factors when you eat a fruit or vegetable, for example.  Eating a variety of foods and eating them at the peak of the season will provide a strong defense against any nutrient deficiencies.

It’s also interesting that younger children had more adequate nutrient intakes than the older children.  This could be attributable to the fact the younger children tend to eat more meals and snacks at home.  Meals and snacks prepared at home are more likely to contain fresh whole foods like fruit and vegetables.

Many fruits and vegetables are at the peak of their freshness at the local farmers markets right now.  Take a family trip to the market in your town and infuse your family with a rainbow of nutrients!

Phil Loomis
Youth Fitness/Nutrition Specialist

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Drink Up to Maximize Performance

If the past few weeks are any indication we are in store for scorching conditions the remainder of the summer.  And believe it or not the start of the fall sport practice season in Michigan is right around the corner.  This means many children will soon be out in the extreme heat and humid conditions. Heat stroke is one of the common causes of exercise-related death in high school students in the United States.  Water is the one nutrient children should consume abundantly throughout the day.  The primary method the body deals with the heat is by the evaporation of sweat.  This evaporative cooling, if excessive or prolonged, can lead to relatively large losses in body water.  Consider that only a 2% loss in body weight of adults (only about 3 lbs. for a 150 lb. adult) via sweating can lead to increased perceived exertion and central fatigue, a decrease in sweat rate and cooling, a decrease in mental performance, a decrease in fine motor skills and precision, and a decrease in endurance and work capacity, preventing dehydration is critical for optimal performance and health during training and competition.

Voluntary dehydration, or dehydration occurring when fluids are in abundance, is of concern during both intermittent activities and prolonged activities in the heat for several reasons.  First, our thirst mechanisms often underestimate our fluid needs during exercise and we simply fail to drink enough to replace fluid losses.  Secondly, as water absorption from the gastrointestinal tract is limited, at the highest sweat rates and in the most extreme conditions, it is difficult to actually replace all the fluid that is lost.  Further, electrolyte insufficiencies/imbalances can occur if fluid replacement practices do not include the addition of sodium and potassium, as these (and other) electrolytes are lost during the sweating/cooling process.

Interestingly, children may actually experience greater heat stress when exercising in hot environments than adults do.   There are quite a few basic differences in the chemical makeup of children that make it harder for them to regulate body temperature than adults.

Children have more body surface area than body weight, so when the outside temperature is higher than body temperature, children tend to gain heat faster than adults. Don’t let their smaller size deceive you.

During exercise, children generate up to 20% to 25% more heat for their body weight than adults. Youngsters’ higher metabolic rates also contribute to the higher amounts of heat that kids can generate with exercise and activities.

Movements that are unrefined and inefficient produce more heat in kids than older athletes who have mastered their techniques and have more smooth movements.

The amount of blood pumped during exercise is less in children than adults, so there is less ability to move heat to the skin to give off heat.

Children have immature sweating mechanisms and also sweat less than adults, so they have less ability to get rid of heat by evaporation of sweat. They do not have as many sweat glands, and those sweat glands are not as efficient as adults. Getting sunburned also decreases the ability of the sweat glands to perform, so wearing sunscreen is a must (in addition to protecting their skin from premature aging and skin cancer).

Children adjust to the heat more slowly, so it will take longer for them to get used to summer temperatures and humidity than adults. This process of adaptation is called acclimatization. This ability to adapt is what allows your Baby Bear not to get too hot or too cold, but to be just right.

Core body temperature in children rises higher and more quickly with dehydration, so it is even more important to provide drink breaks for young active children. The thirst drive in a child is not as good as an adult’s thirst drive, so taking frequent breaks to drink fluids should be mandatory.

Children who are overweight are even more at risk for heat illness because extra weight can compound most of these problems. They have to generate more heat to move the larger body mass, it is harder to give off heat (so they retain more heat), and they adjust even more slowly to the heat.

As little as a 1% loss in of body mass (1lb. in a 100 lb. child) during exercise can decrease endurance performance.  Therefore, voluntary dehydration is of particular concern to young athletes.

In order to prevent voluntary dehydration, a few things are clear.  First, young athletes must drink during athletic events/activities, even when they are not thirsty.  One good strategy is to drink every 15-20 minutes during activity. Chilled sports drinks such as Gatorade and PowerAde (both contain electrolytes) enhance thirst and rate of fluid absorption.  In some studies, the use of such drinks has completely prevented voluntary dehydration.  It must be stated that in most cases plain water is a better hydrating option than sports drinks.  Sports drinks with electrolytes are recommended in extreme heat and after intense and consistent activity of an hour or more in duration.  Sugar laden beverages like fruit juice are not good hydrating options!

According the American Dietetic Association young athletes should consume at least 16 ounces of fluid two hours prior to exercise, and 5 to 10 ounces during exercise, taken every 15 to 20 minutes. Athletes should get into the habit of weighing themselves before and after exercise to determine how much water weight they lose through activity—and consume 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound lost.

According to a study last year at Indiana State University 80% of NCAA Division 1 and 50% of NFL players were dehydrated as determined by their preseason physicals.  Even at the highest levels of competition and even though teams have dedicated training staffs to monitor the athletes dehydration can be a problem. [1]

It’s important for coaches and parents to make their athletes aware and monitor their own hydration status.   How do you know if you’re properly hydrated?  Take a look at your urine.  Generally speaking, the clearer the urine, and the better hydrated you are.  If it is a clear-pale lemonade color, you are hydrated.  If it is darker lemonade to apple juice color, you are dehydrated.  And if it is dark and cloudy, you are severely dehydrated and should notify medical staff immediately.

Over the next few months many children will be playing sports and many others will be enjoying the rest of their summer vacation by swimming and riding bicycles.   Make sure they get the fluids they need to keep them safe and maximize their potential on the field of play whether that’s on the baseball field, tennis court, backyard or playground.

Food For Thought:

Many fruits and vegetables are also excellent sources of hydration.  In fact, about 80 percent of our water intake comes from drinking. The other 20 percent comes from food.   When I was a kid my dad didn’t lug a around a water bottle when working the farm.  He would simply jump off the tractor and pull a cucumber off the vine and use it to hydrate.

Don’t neglect the water bottle but you can also add some of the delicious water-filled foods below to your diet to stay hydrated this summer.

Cucumber - 96% (water content)
Lettuce - 95%
Celery - 95%
Zucchini- 95%
Tomato - 94%
Spinach - 92%
Watermelon - 92%
Strawberries - 92%
Broccoli - 91%
Grapefruit - 91%
Cantaloupe - 90%
Peach - 88%
100% Orange Juice - 88%
Carrots - 87%
Pineapple - 87%
Raspberries- 87%
Apricot - 86%
Blueberries- 85%
Yogurt - 85%
Apple - 84%
Cherries - 81%
Banana - 74%


This hydration related information is from natural health doctor Joseph Mercola.  In a recent article Dr. Mercola highlights the following:

·      Scientific evidence to support the recommendation to drink 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day is lacking.

·      Some experts have suggested that the ongoing advice to drink 8 cups of water a day is “thoroughly debunked nonsense” being spread by bottled water companies in order to churn up more profit.

·      If you drink too much water, the sodium levels in your blood may drop to dangerously low levels, causing hyponatremia -- a dangerous condition in which your cells swell with too much water.

·      Many people are dehydrated, however, and could benefit from drinking more water, and especially from swapping sugar-sweetened beverages like soda with water.

·      Commercial sports drinks are unnecessary for the vast majority of people; the best rehydrating agents are plain water and coconut water, which is naturally rich in electrolytes.

·      Your body will tell you when it's time to replenish your water supply, because once your body has lost between one to two percent of its total water, your thirst mechanism lets you know that it's time to drink some water; if you drink when you’re thirsty and your urine is a pale yellow or lighter in color, you’re probably staying well hydrated. [2]


Hydration Status Chart

Phil Loomis
Youth Fitness/Nutrition Specialist