SCIENCE CORNER- HYDRATION AND PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE - Empower Fitness
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It will be broken down into 3x chunks so you can follow the content more easily in bite-sized chunks too.

The following article is MUCH MORE word-heavy than normal, and also pretty science heavy, so maybe set a little time aside for this one when you have some available if this is your cup of tea!

Hope this helps you understand in MUCH more depth how dehydration can affect physical performance.

Enjoy

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HYDRATION AND PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE

Introduction

In the literature to date there is an overwhelming body of evidence suggesting that dehydration can negatively affect the physical performance of athletes in many ways. The maintenance of a hydrated status before, during and after training and competition is an integral component to many athletes achieving full exercise potential. The importance of hydration will be dependent on the physical requirements of the athlete’s event, and the environment in which it takes place. At first glimpse it may seem a relatively easy section of the strategy to maintain, but as individual situations and environmental factors fluctuate, it becomes much easier to let this area slip.

From personal experience, I feel that hydration is an often underappreciated area, and often neglected by aspiring athletes, and elite competitors alike. I would like to take this opportunity to underpin the main factors that influence the hydration status of athletes, and how important it is to create strategies on an individual basis. Although it would be impossible to go into detail how every sport could benefit, I would like to focus on three main areas: hydration for endurance, with a brief touch on how it can benefit other sports and competitive populations.

 

Thermoregulation, and the Environmental and Physiological factors affecting hydration.

Hydration is a well-documented area in the literature to date, and can have implications for both health and performance perspectives. Hypohydration has been reported to cause an increased risk of infections, a decrease in cardiovascular and respiratory efficiency, and in sever conditions can cause death (1). During exercise the human body will work to avoid hyperthermia by releasing heat into the surrounding environment when this process takes place as much as 75% of heat loss can be achieved via sweat evaporation from the skin’s surface. There are many variables that can affect fluid balance and hydration statuses of athletes. Environmental factors include humidity, temperature, weather variations, as well as physiological factors such as individual sweat rates, sweat consistency, exercise mode, exercise duration, training intensity, and heat acclimatization status all contribute to variations in fluid balance. Competition that takes place in a hot and/or humid environment is well known to further exacerbate sweat rates and subsequent fluid loss. Increases in ambient temperature can dramatically reduce exercise capacity. In a study involving matched power outputs, found that cycling capacity was reduced at 31oC (55min) in comparison to 11oC (93min) (2). It was also found that exercise time was already reduced at a temperature of 21oC. During exercise total body water losses can arrive at a value of around 1-2 L/hr, with exercise taking place in temperate environments reaching 2-3 L/hr (3).