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Hydration for Dancers

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

How to get and stay hydrated ​Adequate hydration is necessary to offset the water lost during exercise via sweating. Sweating is a natural way the body cools itself down, and children are more susceptible to heat stress. Water is also lost when we speak, sing, and breathe – especially heavy breathing with exercise! How do I know if I am hydrated? Some warning signs of dehydration include: noticeable thirst (mouth feels dry and tacky), irritability, muscle cramping or twitching, lack of sweating during exercise or in hot environments. Dehydration can also cause feelings of hunger.

A quick self-assessment using the urine color chart below can also give information about hydration status, but be aware that urine color should not be the only factor in determining this.

Here's another visual cue - urine the color of diluted lemonade is a good sign for hydration, and urine the color of apple juice may indicate dehydration.

**It is important to note, however, that urine color is often not an accurate measure of rehydration after exercise as the urine will appear diluted and clear before fully rehydrated. What happens if I am not hydrated? In addition to the warning signs discussed above, dehydration has effects on dance performance as it affects all body systems:

  • decreased blood volume → increased heart rate to deliver oxygen to muscles → increased rate of perceived exertion (same choreo feels harder) → increased perception of fatigue → decreased endurance → decreased time to exhaustion

  • decreased blood volume to the brain can result in: headache, dizziness or lightheadedness, difficulty paying attention and remembering, decreased motivation, decreased coordination

  • increased body temperature (due to lack of sweating) → brain perceives this as a fever

  • slower gastric emptying/constipation → GI discomfort and can complicate rehydration

Hydration Tips (before and during exercise): 1. Show up hydrated Daily fluid recommendations for children and adolescents:

  • Age 9-13 years = males: 80 fl oz; females: 72 fl oz

  • Age 14-18 years = males: 112 fl oz; females: 80 fl oz

However, young athletes need more. How much more depends on how much fluid is lost during activity, and this is influenced by: intensity and duration of training, environmental conditions (heat/humidity), and clothing. In preparation for exercise, it can be helpful to drink 16 fl oz 30 minutes prior. Leading up to performances, dancers are advised to drink 12 to 20 oz of fluids 2-3 hours prior to allow time for excretion of excess fluid during a time when access to the bathroom may be limited. 2. Stay hydrated Fluid recommendations for children and adolescents during activity:

  • Age 9 to 12 years: 3-5 fl oz every 20 minutes

  • Older athletes: 9-13 fl oz every 15 minutes

Additional Hydration Tips Tip #1: 1 big gulp from a water fountain is about 1 fl oz

Tip #2: Use a water bottle that has ounces measured on the outside to keep track of fluid intake

Tip #3: Create a routine with drinking water so it becomes a habit rather than something to remember (i.e. an hourly chime on the phone, a big gulp with the change of every class at school, keeping a cup of water on the nightstand for drinking first thing in the morning)

Tip #4: Add lemon, lime, cucumber, or mint to water if that makes it more appealing

Tip #5: Eating foods with high water content can be another way to increase fluid intake if drinking water is difficult

NOTES: ​​**Recent illness (especially those including a fever or stomach/intestinal issues), dancers taking medications, or those with certain medical conditions may require additional fluids beyond the recommendations above. ​**For individualized recommendations, please consult your physician or registered dietician.

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