Dehydration has long been known to compromise physical performance. Now, a new Tufts study provides insight into the effects of mild dehydration on young athletes, and possibly into the lives of people too busy to consume enough water daily. About 30 male and female Tufts students were assigned to either a “dehydration group” not given fluids during athletics, or a control group that was given water. Participants weighed in before and after athletics to assess body water loss. After athletic activity, participants underwent cognitive tests, which included short-term memory and mood scales.
Researchers found that dehydration was associated with negative mood, including fatigue and confusion, compared to the hydrated group. The level of mild dehydration (losses of between 1% and 2%) experienced among study participants is comparable to the mild dehydration some people experience in their daily lives from drinking insufficient amounts of water.
Biological psychologist Kristen D’Anci, PhD, led the study while at Tufts’ Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. The findings were published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills.