Disturbances in body water and electrolyte balance can adversely affect cellular as well as systemic function, subsequently reducing the ability of humans to tolerate prolonged exercise. Water lost during exercise-induced sweating can lead to dehydration of both intracellular and extracellular fluid compartments of the body. Even a small amount of dehydration body weight can increase cardiovascular strain as indicated by a disproportionate elevation of heart rate during exercise, and limit the ability of the body to transfer heat from contracting muscles to the skin surface where heat can be dissipated to the environment. Therefore, consequences of body water deficits can increase the probability for impairing exercise performance and developing heat injury.
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The specific aim of this position statement is to provide appropriate guidelines for fluid replacement that will help avoid or minimize the debilitating effects of water and electrolyte deficits on physiological function and exercise performance. These guidelines will also address the rationale for inclusion of carbohydrates and electrolytes in fluid replacement drinks.
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