Impact of mild dehydration on wellness and on exercise performance

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Dec:57 Suppl 2:S19-23. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601897.


Chronic mild dehydration is a common condition in some population groups, including especially the elderly and those who participate in physical activity in warm environments. Hypohydration is recognised as a precipitating factor in a number of acute medical conditions in the elderly, and there may be an association, although not necessarily a causal one, between a low habitual fluid intake and some cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There is some evidence of impairments of cognitive function at moderate levels of hypohydration, but even short periods of fluid restriction, leading to a loss of body mass of 1-2%, lead to reductions in the subjective perception of alertness and ability to concentrate and to increases in self-reported tiredness and headache. In exercise lasting more than a few minutes, hypohydration clearly impairs performance capacity, but muscle strength appears to be relatively unaffected.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature Regulation
  • Body Water / metabolism*
  • Body Water / physiology
  • Dehydration / physiopathology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans