Fluid and electrolyte needs for training, competition, and recovery

J Sports Sci. 2011:29 Suppl 1:S39-46. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2011.614269.


Fluids and electrolytes (sodium) are consumed by athletes, or recommended to athletes, for a number of reasons, before, during, and after exercise. These reasons are generally to sustain total body water, as deficits (hypohydration) will increase cardiovascular and thermal strain and degrade aerobic performance. Vigorous exercise and warm/hot weather induce sweat production, which contains both water and electrolytes. Daily water (4-10 L) and sodium (3500-7000 mg) losses in active athletes during hot weather exposure can induce water and electrolyte deficits. Both water and sodium need to be replaced to re-establish "normal" total body water (euhydration). This replacement can be by normal eating and drinking practices if there is no urgency for recovery. But if rapid recovery (<24 h) is desired or severe hypohydration (>5% body mass) is encountered, aggressive drinking of fluids and consuming electrolytes should be encouraged to facilitate recovery for subsequent competition.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance
  • Body Water
  • Dehydration / etiology
  • Dehydration / prevention & control*
  • Drinking
  • Electrolytes / administration & dosage*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fluid Therapy / methods*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Sweating
  • Water / administration & dosage*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance*
  • Water-Electrolyte Imbalance / prevention & control*
  • Weather


  • Electrolytes
  • Water
  • Sodium