Fluid Replacement Attenuates Physiological Strain Resulting From Mild Hypohydration Without Impacting Cognitive Performance

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Purpose:

The impact of mild hypohydration on physiological responses and cognitive performance following exercise-heat stress (EHS) were examined compared with conditions when fluids were ingested ad libitum (AL) or replaced to match sweat losses (FR).

Methods:

Twelve unacclimatized, recreationally-active men (22.2 ± 2.4 y) completed 50 min cycling (60%VO2peak) in the heat (32°C; 65% RH) under three conditions: no fluid (NF), AL, and FR. Before and after EHS, a cognitive battery was completed: Trail making, perceptual vigilance, pattern comparison, match-to-sample, and letter-digit recognition tests.

Results:

Hypohydration during NF was greater compared with AL and FR (NF: -1.5 ± 0.6; AL: -0.3 ± 0.8; FR: -0.1 ± 0.3% body mass loss) resulting in higher core temperature (by 0.4, 0.5 °C), heart rate (by 13 and 15 b·min-1), and physiological strain (by 1.3, 1.5) at the end of EHS compared with AL and FR, respectively. Cognitive performance (response time and accuracy) was not altered by fluid condition; however, mean response time improved (p < .05) for letter-digit recognition (by 56.7 ± 85.8 ms or 3.8%; p < .05) and pattern comparison (by 80.6 ± 57.4 ms or 7.1%; p < .001), but mean accuracy decreased in trail making (by 1.2 ± 1.4%; p = .01) after EHS (across all conditions).

Conclusions:

For recreational athletes, fluid intake effectively mitigated physiological strain induced by mild hypohydration; however, mild hypohydration resulting from EHS elicited no adverse changes in cognitive performance.

Wittbrodt is with Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI. Millard-Stafford is with Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA. Sherman is with Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI. Cheatham is with Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.

Address author correspondence to Matthew Wittbrodt at mwittbrodt3@gatech.edu.