Young athletes have a higher incidence of heat illness than adult athletes. But this is not because they are less effective at regulating body temperature (as previously believed).
Young and adult athletes have similar capacity to regular body temperature, but via different mechanisms. Adults sweat more; children and young adolescents use peripheral blood dilation to remove heat from their bodies during exercise.
What does this mean for hydration in sports nutrition?
Young athletes do not loose electrolytes as much as adults do because they do not sweat as much. Therefore, the need for electrolyte replacement (such as in sports drinks) is less important. Fluid is important, and the colder the better!
In some cases sports drinks may still be beneficial in that they provide carbohydrate for high energy needs. Other techniques to reduce body heat are equally important to avoid heat illness such as: fans, wearing cool clothing, cold packs, cool breezes and of course cold drinks.
For more information about hydrating for young athletes, contact a Sports Dietitian.