Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dehydration during Sporting Events Doesn't Hurt Performance, Study Finds

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dehydration during Sporting Events Doesn't Hurt Performance, Study Finds

Article excerpt

Dehydration doesn't hurt performance: study

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TORONTO - Dehydration may not be the threat to sporting performance that athletes have been led to believe, a new study suggests.

For several decades the mantra in sports has been "hydrate, hydrate, hydrate" -- a tenet based on the belief that not replenishing the fluids and salts sweated out during exercise is both bad for athletes' health and their success.

But a novel study conducted at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., found that competitive athletes performed equally well regardless of whether they were hydrated or dehydrated, thirsty or not experiencing the sensation of thirst.

Lead author Stephen Cheung said the dehydrated athletes did have higher core temperatures and heart rates, though.

"Your body is more stressed with dehydration. So no questions there. But the performance was not different. And also none of these competitive elite athletes were at any (health) danger," said Cheung, a professor and a Canada research chair in environmental ergonomics.

The public should not interpret the results to mean that there is no need to rehydrate, Cheung insisted.

"Obviously dehydration is bad at a severe level," he said.

But the study results do test the notion that people need to constantly top up their fluids while exercising, he said.

"That is the common message that we are bombarded with. And I'm suggesting that there are certainly some cases where hydration is not as critical as it has been made out to be."

In the 1990s, the American College of Sports Medicine issued a statement declaring that people exercising should replace all the fluids they were sweating out. In 2007 that position was modified to suggest people should not allow themselves to lose more than two per cent of their body weight through sweat during exercise, Cheung said. …

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