Dehydration & Sports Performance

posted Jan 5, 2012, 6:23 AM by Murray Ryan ‎(LASP)‎

Dehydration can reduce concentration, muscle contraction and cause tiredness. Being dehydrated can therefore compromise sporting performance and increase the risk of injury. Furthermore, severe dehydration may increase the risk of heat stress. To decrease the risk of dehydration, adequate fluid should be consumed before, during and after activity.

How Do I Know if I am Dehydrated??

Elite athletes use special equipment such as light refractometers and urinalysis for specific hydration level measurement. For the average person, a simple way to monitor your hydration status is using the urine colour chart.

If your colour urine matches 1 – 3 you are adequately hydrated.

If your urine matches 4 – 8 you need to drink more fluids.

Note: Vitamin supplements can affect the colour of urine for a few hours making it bright yellow or discoloured

REMEMBER feeling ‘thirsty’ is a poor indicator of dehydration, as the sensation of thirst only registers when you are already dehydrated therefore it is too late

How Much Should I Drink?

Sports Medicine Australia recommends the average person drinks about two cups of water in the 2 hours before exercising. For exercise lasting 60 minutes or longer, Sports Medicine Australia recommends 2-3 cups (500-750 ml) of cool water or sports drink per hour.

What Should I Drink?

Any fluid consumed should be cooler than the ambient temperature. Water is an adequate fluid option for activities lasting up to one hour. Electrolyte-based sports drinks are recommended for prolonged activities exceeding one hour to replenish fluids, carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Certain sports drinks are high in carbohydrate and should be carefully considered for people with medical conditions such as diabetes, people who are trying to lose weight and; children and adolescants.

Further Advice

Speak to your doctor, sports dietician or physiotherapist at Lifestyle & Sports Physiotherapy on more specific means of managing your hydration needs.


Sports Medicine Australia (2008) Beat the Heat-Fact Sheet Sports Medicine Australia Website