Men And Women Experience The Same Mood Alterations From Dehydration

Joggers, firefighters and endurance athletes are warned to always make sure they're getting enough water, but the truth is that most people are mildly dehydrated much of the time. Now, scientists at the University of Connecticut's Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) are saying that even mild dehydration can cause changes in mood, energy level, and clarity of thought.

Dehydration's effects occur regardless of whether a person has been exercising—walking on a treadmill for 40 minutes causes no greater change than sitting at rest for that amount of time—and do not require a major change in water volume. The HPL team defines mild hydration as the loss of just 1.5 percent of the body's total volume of water.

Testing 25 women and 26 men over the course of eight weeks, the researchers induced dehydration with treadmill exercises and measured participants' ability to focus, react to stimuli, remember certain sequences, and perform reasoning and learning tasks.

Women typically experienced headaches, fatigue, and loss of concentration, while men had more trouble with cognitive tasks and memory. Men did experience the same mood alterations as women, but the magnitude of change even with only mild dehydration was much larger among women.

The exact reason for the mood changes has yet to be discovered, by HPL scientists suggest it may be an evolved warning system meant to alert us to dropping water levels. They suggest that a healthy adult drink an 8-ounce glass of water every few hours, for a total of 8 glasses (64 ounces) a day.

Source: Human Performance Laboratory, University of Connecticut
Photo: Pexels

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