Healthwise
To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Sports-Related Dehydration

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Most people lose as much as 1 qt (1 L) to 2 qt (2 L) of fluid during 1 hour of exercise. When you are not drinking enough fluids, your muscles get tired quickly, and you may have leg cramps while walking or running.

If you are an athlete, you can lose as much as 3 qt (3 L) of fluid an hour during an intense workout. Fluid loss in endurance activities such as distance running, cycling, strenuous hiking, or cross-country skiing can be severe. These types of activities can quickly lead to heat exhaustion.

In endurance athletes, dehydration can cause symptoms, called post-extreme endurance syndrome (PEES). Symptoms of PEES include decreased body temperature, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, muscle cramps, and an inability to drink fluids.

Distance runners and other endurance athletes are not the only ones to have problems with dehydration. Football, basketball, and hockey players all may lose large amounts of fluid during a game. High school and college wrestlers often decrease their fluid intake and promote excessive sweating before a match in order to "make weight."

To protect yourself from dehydration:

It is important to protect yourself from dehydration in extremely hot or dry weather and at high elevations. Exercise early in the day or later in the evening when it is cooler.


Credits for Sports-Related Dehydration

Current as of: February 26, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine


Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.