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A water tale for all seasons: When it comes to hydration and exercise, the system works

on) may better preserve the extravascular fluid volume, accounting for the improved TBW (total body water), compared with water alone. This extravascular 'reserve' could later be called on during exercise or heat stress, when hydration becomes important to performance and thermoregulation," the paper noted.

Catherine O'Brien, lead author of the glycerol study, said "there's a window of two to six hours where GI could be beneficial. That's a narrow niche where it might be useful for instance for soldiers on short-range patrol with inadequate access to rehydration." The paper noted that the experiments supported earlier findings "suggesting that glycerol induced hyperhydration through renal reabsorption of water and glycerol. Finally, this study provides insight into the hormonal mechanisms of cold-induced diuresis and fluid shifts due to hyperhydration."

Next steps

"Whether the degree of hyperhydration" in the current study "is sufficient to improve physical performance in the cold or thermoregulation during subsequent body warming due to exercise or heat exposure remains to be demonstrated," the paper noted.

In addition, O'Brien said: "We learned previously that hydration doesn't seem to affect susceptibility to frostbite. But soldiers and outdoorsmen are more affected by their hands and fingers getting stiff. We're going to look at how physical performance such as manual dexterity can better be maintained in the cold."

Some dehydration shows no performance effect in cold, but does as temperature rises

It's well recognized that athletes perform progressively better as the temperature falls from hot to cool. It is also known that dehydration worsens performance in the heat, but its effect in milder environments is not well understood. A USARIEM team led by Samuel N. Cheuvront found that dehydration by 3% of body weight had little adverse impact on cycling performance in the cold (36F), but markedly red
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2-Sep-2005


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