Effects of exercise-induced dehydration on cognitive ability, muscular endurance and surfing performance : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Sport and Exercise Science, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand
The aim of this study was to measure the degree of dehydration experienced during surf
practice and examine the effect this might have on surfing performance, cognitive
function and muscular endurance of elite surfers. Twelve male national and international
level surfers volunteered to take part in the study. Their mean (± SD) age, body mass,
height and surfing experience were 27.0 ± 3.3 years, 73.2 ± 7.1 kg, 1.7 ± 0.05 m and 21.0
± 3.1 years, respectively.
The participants were randomly assigned to one of two trials: no fluid ingestion (NF) or
fluid ingestion (FI) during 100 min of surf practice in a steamer wetsuit. The experiment
was designed to emulate not only the physical and cognitive demands of surfing but also
the ambient environment in which it takes place. Before and immediately after surf
practice, the participants had their hydration status measured, completed a cognitive test
battery and upper and lower-body muscular endurance tests. Surfing performance was
assessed during the first and last 20 min of practice.
At the conclusion of the NF trial, participants showed a 3.9 ± 0.7% body mass (BM) loss,
this was significantly greater (P < 0.05) than the 1.6 ± 0.7% BM loss seen at the end of
the FI trial. In the NF trial, surfing performance decreased by 20.3 ± 7.1%, but showed a
slight improvement in the FI trial (1.9 ± 10.2%). Of the six cognitive domains assessed
(short-term memory, information processing speed, working memory, attention,
visuomotor skill and visual acuity) all were significantly impaired when at a 3.9 ± 0.7%
BM loss (P < 0.05) yet were unaffected at a 1.6 ± 0.7% BM loss. Information
processing speed and working memory were the most strongly correlated to surfing
performance (r = 0.74; P < 0.05). At the conclusion of the NF trial upper and lower-body
muscular endurance were diminished by 21.2 ± 5.5% and 4.4 ± 5.8%, respectively. At the
conclusion of the FI trial upper-body muscular endurance was reduced by 17.0 ± 4.1%
while lower-body muscular endurance was marginally better (1 ± 3%). There was a
significant difference in muscular endurance capacity between trials yet no significant
correlation was observed between muscular endurance and surfing performance.
The findings of this study suggest that surf practice for 100 min in a steamer wetsuit
results in BM loss severe enough to significantly impair surfing performance, cognitive
function and muscular endurance. Yet, when water is consumed during surf practice,
surfing performance, cognitive function and lower body (but not upper-body) muscular
endurance is maintained.
Keywords: fluid ingestion, surf training, steamer wetsuit, hypohydration.