Fluid intake and changes in limb volumes in male ultra-marathoners: does fluid overload lead to peripheral oedema?

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Mar;112(3):991-1003. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2056-3. Epub 2011 Jul 1.


An increase in body mass due to oedema has been previously described. The aim of this study was to investigate a potential association between both fluid and electrolyte intake and the formation of peripheral oedemas. Fluid and electrolyte intakes and the changes in limb volumes in 50 male 100-km ultra-marathoners were measured. Pre- and post-race serum sodium concentration ([Na(+)]), serum aldosterone concentration, serum copeptin concentration, serum and urine osmolality and body mass were determined. Fluid intake, renal function parameters and urinary output, as well as the changes of volume in the extremities, were measured. The changes of volume in the limbs were measured using plethysmography. Serum [Na(+)] increased by 1.6%; body mass decreased by 1.9 kg. Serum copeptin and aldosterone concentrations were increased. The change in serum copeptin concentration and the change in serum [Na(+)] correlated positively; the change in serum [Na(+)] and body mass correlated negatively. A mean fluid intake of 0.58 L/h was positively related to running speed and negatively to post-race serum [Na(+)]. Total fluid intake was positively related to the changes in both arm and lower leg volumes. Running speed was positively associated with the changes in arm and lower leg volumes; race time was related to the changes in serum copeptin or aldosterone concentrations. To conclude, fluid intake was related to the changes in limb volumes, where athletes with an increased fluid intake developed an increase in limb volumes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aldosterone / analysis
  • Aldosterone / blood
  • Athletes*
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Drinking / physiology*
  • Drinking Behavior / physiology
  • Edema / etiology*
  • Extremities / anatomy & histology*
  • Glycopeptides / analysis
  • Glycopeptides / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size / physiology
  • Running / physiology*
  • Water-Electrolyte Imbalance / complications*
  • Water-Electrolyte Imbalance / physiopathology


  • Glycopeptides
  • copeptins
  • Aldosterone