Changes in skin blood and sweating are the primary mechanisms for heat loss in humans. A hot, humid environment concomitant with dehydration limits the ability to increase skin blood flow for the purpose of transferring heat from the body core to skin surface and evaporate sweat to maintain core temperature within safe limits during exercise. Adequate hydration improves thermoregulation by maintaining blood volume to support skin blood flow and sweating. Humans rely on fluid intake to maintain total body water and blood volume, and have developed complex mechanisms to sense changes in the amount and composition of fluid in the body. This paper addresses the interrelationship of research in the laboratory and the field toassess hydration status involved in body water and temperature regulation during exercise. In the controlled setting of a research laboratory, investigators are able to investigate the contributions of volume and tonicity of fluid in the plasma to body water and temperature regulation during exercise and recovery. For example, laboratory studies have shown that tonicity in a rehydration beverage maintains the thirst mechanism (and stimulates drinking), and contributes to the ongoing stimulation of renal fluid retention hormones, ultimately leading to a more complete rehydration.Research in the field cannot control the environment precisely, but these studies provide a natural, 'real-life' setting to study fluid and temperature regulation during exercise. The conditions encountered in the field are closest to the environment during competition, and data collected in the fieldcan have an immediate impact on performance and safety during exercise. There is an important synergy between these two methods of collecting data that support performance and protect athletes from harm during training and improve performance during competition.
Sports Med. 44(Suppl 1):97-104.