Dehydration and Human Performance

Natives of desert regions have, over the years, habituated to being chronically dehydrated. A study of the desert inhabitants found that they had a curtailed thirst drive that was associated with excretion of low volumes of concentrated urine and a high incidence of kidney disease (kidney stones). When additional water intake (approximately twice normal) was ingested in a subsample of this population, they were able to exercise 10% longer in the desert environment, presumably due to improved thermoregulation. The results of this and other studies illustrate that humans probably do not adapt to dehydration but can become used to a mild chronic dehydration due to inadequate fluid intake. This is not a true physiological adaptation since there are negative health and performance effects associated with chronic dehydration.

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