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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Jan;106(1):91-100. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.90783.2008. Epub 2008 Oct 23.

Fluid and electrolyte supplementation after prolonged moderate-intensity exercise enhances muscle glycogen resynthesis in Standardbred horses.

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Dept. of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Univ. of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada N1G 2W1.


We hypothesized that postexercise rehydration using a hypotonic electrolyte solution will increase the rate of recovery of whole body hydration, and that this is associated with increased muscle glycogen and electrolyte recovery in horses. Gluteus medius biopsies and jugular venous blood were sampled from six exercise-conditioned Standardbreds on two separate occasions, at rest and for 24 h following a competitive exercise test (CET) designed to simulate the speed and endurance test of a 3-day event. After the CETs, horses were given water ad libitum, and either a hypotonic commercial electrolyte solution (electrolyte) via nasogastric tube, followed by a typical hay/grain meal, or a hay/grain meal alone (control). The CET resulted in decreased total body water and muscle glycogen concentration of 8.4 +/- 0.3 liters and 22.6%, respectively, in the control treatment, and 8.2 +/- 0.4 liters and 21.9% in the electrolyte treatment. Electrolyte resulted in an enhanced rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis and faster restoration of hydration (as evidenced by faster recovery of plasma protein concentration, maintenance of plasma osmolality, and greater muscle intracellular fluid volume) during the recovery period compared with control. There were no differences in muscle Na, K, Cl, or Mg contents between the two treatments. It is concluded that oral administration of a hypotonic electrolyte solution after prolonged moderate-intensity exercise enhanced the rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis during the recovery period compared with control. It is speculated that postexercise dehydration may be one key contributor to the slow muscle glycogen replenishment in horses.

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