Hydration at Work Improves Mood & Well-Being

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Hydration at Work Improves Mood & Well-Being

Many factors affect productivity, amongst these, and probably one of the easiest to manage, is to remain properly hydrated throughout the work day.  Hydration at work has shown to increase performance, improve mood and assist in a general sense of well-being. These facts are well documented in the scientific community, and one such study published in 2011, took another look at how the absence of hydration affects the mood of young women during their day.

For ease of analysis, the study can be split into three sections: subjects, methodology and results.


The subjects selected, after an initial volunteer group of 30, were 25 healthy women with an average age of 23 years. ‘Healthy’ was stipulated as physically fit (neither highly trained nor completely sedentary); free from chronic disease; and free from eating disorders or any extreme form of diet. The women were also required to have used oral contraceptives for at least three consecutive months prior to the study.


All subjects participated in three 8-hour, placebo-controlled experiments. The women were told to drink adequate amounts of water and ensure a good night’s sleep prior to each test phase; in addition, they were not allowed to consume caffeine or alcohol for 12 hours before each experiment, and to ensure equal hydration, over and above their normal fluid intake, they were asked to drink an extra 240ml of water before going to bed, and again the next morning upon waking. Their food intake was also standardised.

Each experiment involved a different hydration state and can be summarised as follows:

  1. Exercise-induced dehydration with no diuretic (DN)
  2. Exercise-induced dehydration plus diuretic (DD; furosemide, 40mg) and
  3. Euhydration (EU)

In the third experiment, subjects had to perform the same exercise routine as in the first two experiments, but they were given enough water to drink during and after their physical expenditure, to exactly match whatever amount of fluid they had lost in urine and sweat during the session, rendering them euhydrated, which is defined as the ‘normal state of body water content; absent of absolute or relative hydration or dehydration’.


A number of tests were administered during each experiment, three times at rest and during each of the three exercise sessions.

In the DN (dehydrated no diuretic) and DD (dehydrated plus diuretic) trials, the results of all the subjects who attained a ≥1% level of dehydration were pooled and compared to that subject’s results in the equivalent EU (euhydrated) trials. The mean dehydration level achieved during the first two experiments was 1.36%.

Important to note at this point, is that the level of dehydration achieved is considered mild – the American College of Sports Medicine, quantifies ‘mild hypohydration as body mass losses exceeding 1% – and while the subjects in this experiment exercised in order to attain the reported level of dehydration, it is a level easily achieved by most of us during our work day, simply by not drinking enough water.

The results showed that when dehydrated, there were significant adverse effects present both at rest and during the exercise regime.

Negatively affected performance included ‘degraded mood, increased perception of task difficulty, lower concentration, and headache symptoms’.

The obvious conclusion to draw from this study, along with the many others of its kind, is that the presence or absence of water in our day makes a very big difference to our sense of mood and general well-being. If productivity is a key performance indicator, then hydration at work has to take priority.

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