Updated 02 October 2015

Water and sport

Proper hydration is fundamental in sports, in order to promote safety, wellbeing and performance. Water allows oxygen to be transferred to the muscles to fuel them during training.


Dehydration damages the sportsperson's concentration and performance. Regular correct exercise is an important factor in preventing disease and allows people to keep fit and achieve physical and mental wellbeing. Ensuring good hydration is of fundamental importance.

Losses of body liquids during physical exercise involve a decrease in plasma volume and of the muscles' water content. The heart will therefore have to work harder to provide its pumping functions and transport the blood in circulation. The muscles will work with less energy and will start to give symptoms of fatigue.

Drinking water prevents heat stroke

In vigorous exercise, up to two – three litres of water could be lost per hour. Athletes are in danger of heat stroke and muscle cramps when this occurs. One simple method to assess the amount of water needed is to weigh yourself before and after exercise and recoup the water losses. 

Studies have shown that most people who take part in sports do not drink enough water. Athletes tend to replace only two-thirds of the water they have lost. Liquids are not only lost through the skin, but also through the lungs. Pre-hydration and re-hydration are of fundamental importance to sportspeople.

Drink water before thirst symptoms appear

It is also important to drink water before thirst symptoms appear. It is essential that water must be available during training sessions and competitions.

Apart from drinking water in sufficient quantities, anyone participating in strenuous sports, should also have a diet sufficiently rich in carbohydrates,  fruit and vegetables, and low in harmful fats. 

(Source: WHO)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.