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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Jun;24(3):507-18. doi: 10.1111/sms.12028. Epub 2012 Dec 17.

Ingestion of sodium plus water improves cardiovascular function and performance during dehydrating cycling in the heat.

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Exercise Physiology Laboratory, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, Spain.


We studied if salt and water ingestion alleviates the physiological strain caused by dehydrating exercise in the heat. Ten trained male cyclists (VO2max : 60 ± 7 mL/kg/min) completed three randomized trials in a hot-dry environment (33 °C, 30% rh, 2.5 m/s airflow). Ninety minutes before the exercise, participants ingested 10 mL of water/kg body mass either alone (CON trial) or with salt to result in concentrations of 82 or 164 mM Na(+) (ModNa(+) or HighNa(+) trial, respectively). Then, participants cycled at 63% of VO2 m ⁢ a x for 120 min immediately followed by a time-trial. After 120 min of exercise, the reduction in plasma volume was lessened with ModNa(+) and HighNa(+) trials (-11.9 ± 2.1 and -9.8 ± 4.2%) in comparison with CON (-16.4 ± 3.2%; P < 0.05). However, heat accumulation or dissipation (forearm skin blood flow and sweat rate) were not improved by salt ingestion. In contrast, both salt trials maintained cardiac output (∼ 1.3 ± 1.4 L/min; P < 0.05) and stroke volume (∼ 10 ± 11 mL/beat; P < 0.05) above CON after 120 min of exercise. Furthermore, the salt trials equally improved time-trial performance by 7.4% above CON (∼ 289 ± 42 vs 269 ± 50 W, respectively; P < 0.05). Our data suggest that pre-exercise ingestion of salt plus water maintains higher plasma volume during dehydrating exercise in the heat without thermoregulatory effects. However, it maintains cardiovascular function and improves cycling performance.


cardiovascular drift; fluid-electrolyte balance; plasma volume expansion; thermoregulation

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