Water and electrolyte requirements for exercise

Clin Sports Med. 1999 Jul;18(3):513-24. doi: 10.1016/s0278-5919(05)70165-4.


Exercise performance can be compromised by a body water deficit, particularly when exercise is performed in hot climates. It is recommended that individuals begin exercise when adequately hydrated. This can be facilitated by drinking 400 mL to 600 mL of fluid 2 hours before beginning exercise and drinking sufficient fluid during exercise to prevent dehydration from exceeding 2% body weight. A practical recommendation is to drink small amounts of fluid (150-300 mL) every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise, varying the volume depending on sweating rate. Core temperature, heart rate, and perceived effort remain lowest when fluid replacement comes closest to matching the rate of sweat loss. During exercise lasting less than 90 minutes, water alone is sufficient for fluid replacement. During prolonged exercise lasting longer than 90 minutes, commercially available carbohydrate electrolyte beverages should be considered to provide an exogenous carbohydrate source to sustain carbohydrate oxidation and endurance performance. Electrolyte supplementation is generally not necessary because dietary intake is adequate to offset electrolytes lost in sweat and urine; however, during initial days of hot-weather training or when meals are not calorically adequate, supplemental salt intake may be indicated to sustain sodium balance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Drinking Behavior
  • Electrolytes / metabolism*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Water / metabolism
  • Water / physiology*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance*


  • Electrolytes
  • Water