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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2007 Aug;103(2):534-41. Epub 2007 Apr 26.

Preexercise sodium loading aids fluid balance and endurance for women exercising in the heat.

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School of Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


This study was conducted during the high-hormone phase of both natural and oral contraceptive pill (OCP)-mediated menstrual cycles to determine whether preexercise ingestion of a concentrated sodium beverage would increase plasma volume (PV), reduce physiological strain, and aid endurance of moderately trained women cycling in warm conditions. Thirteen trained cyclists [peak O(2) uptake 52 ml x kg(-1) x min(-1) (SD 2), age 26 yr (SD 6), weight 60.8 kg (SD 5)] who were oral contraceptive users (n = 6) or not (n = 7) completed this double-blind, crossover experiment. Cyclists ingested a concentrated-sodium (High Na(+): 164 mmol Na(+)/l) or low-sodium (Low Na(+): 10 mmol Na(+)/l) beverage (10 ml/kg) before cycling to exhaustion at 70% Peak O(2) uptake in warm conditions (32 degrees C, 50% relative humidity, air velocity 4.5 m/s). Beverage (approximately 628 ml) was ingested in seven portions across 60 min beginning 105 min before exercise, with no additional fluid given until the end of the trial. Trials were separated by one to two menstrual cycles. High Na(+) increased PV (calculated from hematocrit and hemoglobin concentration) before exercise, whereas Low Na(+) did not [-4.4 (SD 1.1) vs. -1.9% (SD 1.3); 95% confidence interval: for the difference 5.20, 6.92; P < 0.0001], and it involved greater time to exhaustion [98.8 (SD 25.6) vs. 78.7 (SD 24.6) min; 95% confidence interval: 13.3, 26.8; P < 0.0001]. Core temperature rose more quickly with Low Na(+) [1.6 degrees C/h (SD 0.2)] than High Na(+) [1.2 degrees C/h (SD 0.2); P = 0.04]. Plasma [AVP], [Na(+)] concentration, and osmolality, and urine volume, [Na(+)], and osmolality decreased with sodium loading (P < 0.05) independent of pill usage. Thus preexercise ingestion of a concentrated sodium beverage increased PV, reduced thermoregulatory strain, and increased exercise capacity for women in the high-hormone phase of natural and oral contraceptive pill-mediated menstrual cycles, in warm conditions.

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