Keeping your young athlete healthy

April 6, 2016

Body

Texas Children’s Hospital and the Houston Texans are teaming up to provide parents, coaches and children with some tools and resources to help keep young athletes healthy. We believe through proper nutrition, regular and safe physical fitness, as well as good overall health and wellness, this can easily be accomplished.

Follow these simple steps to keep your young athlete safe and healthy year round.

Training tips

  • Start slowly. Fitness doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, discipline and hard work. When picking up a sport for the first time, new muscles are used. Endurance must be built gradually to avoid injury and burnout.
  • Safety is key. Ensure you have proper shoes, clothes, sun protection and a helmet for your selected activity. Avoid harsh temperatures (extreme hot and cold) if playing outside. Have your child wear bright colors to ensure cars can see them.
  • Heads up! If playing football or any other physical sports, make sure your child is wearing a regulated, approved helmet. It’s also very important to teach proper tackling and contact techniques to avoid head and neck injuries and concussions.
  • Rest. Getting adequate amounts of sleep affects your child’s life and training program. A well-rested child has improved memory, metabolism and overall health.

Nutrition and hydration

  • Food is fuel. When foods are chosen by a few basic principles, the plate becomes an ally in the prevention of chronic illnesses and a strategy to improve performance. The principles are simple: choose a plate rich in colorful produce, quality whole grain carbohydrates and lean protein. Visit kidseatright.org and choosemyplate.gov for meal-planning ideas.
  • Rest and recover. Foods to give you that extra boost after a workout include yogurt, granola, low-fat chocolate milk, bananas and peanut butter.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Children need 3 to 5 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during practice or games. Aim for 12 to 20 ounces per hour. A white residue on the skin or clothing indicates sodium loss and the need to rehydrate.
  • Eating on the go. When a full meal isn’t possible, quality snacks such as dried fruit, mixed nuts, pretzels, popcorn and animal crackers are excellent options.

Regular activity

  • Build a family routine. Set aside time each day for physical activity. The NFL PLAY 60 initiative encourages kids to get a full hour of physical activity each day. Strive to meet that goal every day.
  • Make it fun. Physical activity doesn’t have to be complex or a burden. Mix it up – hula hoop in the driveway, go to the park, play laser tag or have a dance party. Challenge yourself to come up with new, exciting ideas each day.

Proper medical treatment

  • Promote health year-round. Ensure your child is staying healthy with routine visits to a pediatrician. Pediatricians are much more than doctors – they are partners in your child’s health. At Texas Children's Pediatrics, we have more than 50 convenient, community locations. Visit texaschildrenspediatrics.org to find the location nearest you.
  • Seek specialty care. Sometimes children require unique, expert treatment. Texas Children’s is proud to offer subspecialty care such as cardiology, allergy and immunology, diagnostic imaging, sports medicine, pediatric gynecology and more. Visit texaschildrens.org/find-a-department for a full list of services provided in the Texas Medical Center and across the greater Houston area.

Visit texaschildrens.org/texans to learn more about our partnership with the Houston Texans. Go Texans! Go Texas Children’s!

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