Being a teenage athlete can be quite a stressful time. Not only do these youngsters manage a busy schedule filled up with school and work, they also need to attend practice and other team-related events such as games and meetings. They also need to manage their health and wellness.
If your child plays a high-intensity or contact sport such as football, wrestling, or gymnastics, they also need to consistently worry about injury and fatigue.
One important, yet often overlooked, aspect of managing these stressors is overall physical and mental health. Proper nutrition and body conditioning is essential to preventing injuries both on and off the field.
Some of the things that your child can do to stay healthy:
- Drink water. Staying hydrated is incredibly important to teenage athletes, as most sports are very physically demanding and result in water loss. Hydration is vital for organs, such as the brain and heart, to operate efficiently.
- Eat healthy. A well-balanced diet – high in protein, fiber, and healthy fat – will keep your body running at peak efficiency. Make sure your young athlete is staying away from high-fat, high-sugar items such as candy bars, fast food, and soda.
- Follow a warm-up routine. The exercise required in most athletic programs is strict and hard on your teen’s body. Make sure that they are properly warming up before attempting any kind of high-intensity activity.
- Avoid supplements and high-caffeine. Sadly, too many youngsters have collapsed, and even died, from performance-enhancing supplements and trendy products that promise peak performance. The developing teenage body does not handle these types of high-intensity products very well. It’s also important to note that most of these products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Maintain a healthy weight. Some sports such as gymnastics, wrestling, and boxing often require that the athlete follow a strict dietary regimen. Try to make sure that your teen doesn’t feel pressured to stay too thin, and that they understand the importance of proper nutrition and caloric intake for optimal performance and endurance.
- Get plenty of sleep. With their very busy schedules, it is paramount that your teen athlete gets the shuteye needed for performance both in the classroom and on the playing field. Most professionals recommend around eight to nine hours of sleep each night.
- Get a checkup. Specifically, your child should get an athletic exam – also known as a sports physical or pre-participation physical examination (PPE). Most states, including Wyoming, require kids and teens to have a physical and be cleared by a licensed physician before they can participate in a sport or competitive field.
Dr. Kurt Hunter and his friendly staff at Hunter Family Medical Clinic offer comprehensive athletic examinations, guaranteed to give you peace of mind while you athlete competes.