July 17, 2017 By Megan Fischer-Colbrie

Dehydration and Athletic Performance



Every athlete should know that hydration is a critical aspect of training, and also important in maintaining a healthy well being, before and after exercise. Proper hydration is necessary for athletes, as it regulates body temperature and lubricates joints for athletic movements. Water also helps transport nutrients throughout the body, these nutrients give the body the energy it needs to be able to sustain any athletic endeavour. Staying well hydrated should be a high priority for athletes, throughout the day, and not before it’s too late.

Athletes Need Water to Perform

Most athletes know to drink water, but besides staying hydrated during practice, post-workout hydration is an important part of recovery. Water flushes out harmful toxins, and helps flush out excess acid from muscles in the body post-exertion phase. It also aids in cellular repair, so the micro tears in muscles from exertion during exercise will heal faster, and leave the ahtlete feeling less sore the next day. More specifically, a dehydrated athlete with 2.5% loss of body weight in the form of water can experience up to 45% loss in capacity to perform high-intensity exercise. For a 150 lb athlete, this means a loss of 60 ounces of water. It may sound difficult to lose this much water, but under normal conditions an athlete produces about 27-48 ounces of sweat per hour during the average exercise, and that’s not including hot, dry conditions or high intensity exercise that many elite athletes undergo. So, chances are, if athletes work out longer for than an hour, they are highly likely to be dehydrated to the point of reduced performance in the second half of your workout or competition. However this can be turned around with consistent hydration.


The Impact of Dehydration


Hydrating properly can help an athlete sustain work capacity; in other words, athletes will be able to work harder if they drink more water. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that simply sitting at a desk can lead to dehydration and negative consequences even without visible sweating or exercise. This study indicates that once dehydration sets in, it affects cognition, concentration, and ability to control mood. The results show that mild dehydration (defined as a 1.5% loss in water) leads to fatigue, difficulty in memory tasks, anxiety and tension. So what does this mean for athletes? It means that when the body begins to feel thirsty, it is already 1-2% dehydrated. This means that on average, the daily recommended water intake is 6 to 8 glasses of water or 1.2 to 2 liters per day. 



It can still be difficult to add in another health habit to a daily routine, if hydration seems out of sight, out of mind, make it more of a priority. Always carry a water bottle, this way you’ll find yourself drinking more water subconsciously, and will be less likely to reach those dehydrated energy lows. Hydration is a fast and simple way to help you increase athletic performance, and something to keep consistent during daily activities.


Check out another Bridge blog post on sleep's impact on athletic performance and theimportance of good nutrition.

Download Take Your Shot at Greatness


1. http://www.cp12.org/blog/index.php/2013/06/06/chronicdehydration-are-we-thirstier-than-we-thing/
2. Sawka, Young, Cardarette, et al. 1985 http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/dehydration-and-its-effects-on-performance
3. http://beta.active.com/nutrition/articles/cracking-the-code-on-sweat-rates
4. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/20/mild-dehydration-causes-a-_n_1288964.html

About the Author

Megan Fischer-Colbrie


Related Posts