Summer is time to exercise outside. From swimming to biking to camp activities, kids are bound to spend more time in the sun. Hydration and sun damage are two concerns when it comes to outdoor fitness.
Children are more prone to dehydration and overheating because their bodies are less capable of perspiring and can produce more heat during exercise. Kids often become so involved in an activity they don’t notice the signs of dehydration. By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so it is important to remind children to drink every 20 minutes. While ice cold drinks sound great in summer heat, people consume less than if the beverage is served at a more moderate temperature. Cool tap water is the best choice. Sport drinks are filled with artificial colors, flavors and added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Caffeinated drinks contribute to dehydration. Plastic, bottled water contains chemicals that leach from the bottle. Many studies have found that bottled water is no more pure than tap water and often contains BPA from the plastic. The Bay Area has one of the highest water qualities in the US, making your tap the most healthy and affordable choice. When buying a refillable water bottle, choose a plastic one that is BPA-free or opt for stainless steel. Try to get in the habit of carrying one everywhere.
Rash guards and hats are the best sun protection, but rays penetrate clothing, so sunblock is still an important barrier. When it comes to sunblock, there are many options, but they don’t all provide the same protection. Not only are there many brands, but ingredients as well. Basic sun protection blocks UVB rays. A “broad-spectrum” sunblock absorbs UVA rays so that they don’t reach your skin. They contain multiple ingredients like avobenzone and oxybenzone because none of them can absorb all types of rays. These sunblocks protect for about one hour after application. The best type of sun protection is one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These are the only two ingredients that are physical barriers that deflect the entire UV spectrum from your skin. They are active for about three hours after application and are great for sensitive skin. Transparent zinc is available in most face blocks so you can avoid that chalky look.
Sunblock should be applied 15 minutes before going out and reapplied every three hours if it contains zinc or titanium dioxide, every hour if it doesn’t. Choose a waterproof or sweat-resistant block based on your activities. Don’t forget ears, lips, neck, tops of feet and the back of hands.
Enjoy the weather, play hard and stay hydrated!
Dani Federico M.P.H. holds a Masters in Public Health and a B.A. with a concentration in human biomechanics both from UC Berkeley. A lifetime athlete, Dani has studied various training philosophies and personally experimented with many different training techniques. While in graduate school at UC Berkeley, Danielle taught nutritional science and now brings this expertise to clients trying to make healthy lifestyle changes. Owner of KickStart Fitness, Dani is a personal trainer and nutritional counselor who has helped many people overcome obstacles on their way to becoming fabulous. She is the author of Mommy Fabulous: Complete Pregnancy Nutrition and Fitness Guide Designed to Deliver a Fabulous Postpartum Figure.