Effects of dehydration on exercise performance

Can J Appl Physiol. 1999 Apr;24(2):164-72. doi: 10.1139/h99-014.


Dehydration refers both to hypohydration (dehydration induced prior to exercise) and to exercise-induced dehydration (dehydration that develops during exercise). The latter reduces aerobic endurance performance and results in increased body temperature, heart rate, perceived exertion, and possibly increased reliance on carbohydrate as a fuel source. Although the negative effects of exercise-induced dehydration on exercise performance were clearly demonstrated in the 1940s, athletes continued to believe for years thereafter that fluid intake was not beneficial. More recently, negative effects on performance have been demonstrated with modest (<2%) dehydration, and these effects are exacerbated when the exercise is performed in a hot environment. The effects of hypohydration may vary, depending on whether it is induced through diuretics or sauna exposure, which substantially reduce plasma volume, or prior exercise, which has much less impact on plasma volume. Hypohydration reduces aerobic endurance, but its effects on muscle strength and endurance are not consistent and require further study.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Dehydration / etiology
  • Dehydration / physiopathology*
  • Dehydration / prevention & control
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Diuretics / adverse effects
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Perception
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Plasma Volume / physiology
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Steam Bath / adverse effects


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Diuretics