Introduction: The aim of this study is to investigate the amount of water loss and percentage dehydration experienced during 1 hour of paddling on the kayak ergometer so as to help coaches and athletes tailor a suitable and adequate rehydration regime. Also, rehydration efficacy between water and a well established, commercially available sports drink (Gatorade, Quaker Oats company, USA) was investigated in this cross-over study.
Materials and methods: Ten national flatwater kayakers were monitored in a controlled setting while paddling the kayak ergometer for 1 hour at an intensity sustainable for long distance marathon. They rehydrated themselves ad libitum with provided beverage. Post-void towel-dried body mass was measured before and after the exercise with percentage dehydration calculated. Body core temperature (tympanic temperatures), ratings of perceived exertion and thirst index were monitored every 15 minutes. The amount of fluid consumed, urine output and urine specific gravity were obtained after exercise.
Results: The results [mean +/- standard deviation (SD)] showed that kayakers underwent 1.10 +/- 0.52% dehydration while rehydrating with water as compared to 0.72 +/- 0.38% while rehydrating with Gatorade. Also, athletes on water rehydration had higher rating of perceived exertion (RPE) at the 30th and 60th minute mark of the exercise. Overall, athletes undergoing water rehydration lost significantly more body mass (0.70 +/- 0.39 kg) as compared to rehydrating with Gatorade (0.46 +/- 0.27).
Conclusion: Although the hydration efficacy of Gatorade proved superior to that of water, the athletes' hydration habits with either fluids did not provide adequate hydration. It is recommended that specific strategies be developed to address dehydration and rehydration issues of kayakers in Singapore.