While athletes participating in low-intensity activities may not see such a burden on their thermoregulatory system as quickly as high-intensity athletes, hydration is no less important. Dehydration can be progressive and this is just as detrimental as acute dehydration2.
The NATA issued a position statement outlining the minimum recommendations for hydration and fluid replacement. They can be found here.
Low-intensity sports increase the risk of an individual experiencing progressive dehydration which occurs because of the failure to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost through sweating2.
Dehydration can greatly diminish performance and inhibit the body’s natural physiological responses to exercise. With just a 1-2% loss of body mass through sweat, an athlete may experience an increase in heart rate, an increase in core body temperature, an increase in muscle glycogen use, a decrease in cardiac output, a decrease in cognitive ability, a decrease in anaerobic power, and a decrease in the time to exhaustion8. At just a 5% loss, muscle strength begins to be negatively impacted2. Muscle endurance and aerobic power begin to decline at just a 3% loss while physical work capacity decreases at less than 2%2.
It is important to note that there is no universal hydration plan, and that hydration and fluid replacement plans must be specific to every individual athlete8. What may work for one athlete will not work for another.