Kaitlin M. Welter*1, Jason D. Wagganerǂ1, and Jeremy T. Barnesǂ1, 1Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO

Adequate hydration is important for good health and athletic performance. Water helps regulate bodily functions as well as maintain fluid balance. Objective measures of hydration status include urine specific gravity (USG) and a professional’s analysis of urine color (UC), while subjective measures include self-evaluation of perceived hydration status and visual analysis of UC. PURPOSE: To compare actual (i.e., USG and professional analysis of UC) to perceived (i.e., pre- and post-urine sample self-evaluation and visual analysis of UC) hydration status in recreationally active college-aged participants. METHODS: Participants (n=109; males=58, females=51; age 22.31+3.81 years) were asked to self-evaluate perceived hydration status on a 1-10 scale two times. The first was upon arrival to the lab (i.e., pre-) and the second after looking at a specimen cup of their mid-stream urine sample (i.e., post-). From the same urine sample the researcher (professional) measured USG (PEN-Wrestling digital refractometer; Atago, Bellevue WA) and determined UC using the 1-8 color scale commonly used to assess hydration status (National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes). All data were analyzed using SPSS (v23). RESULTS: A Pearson Product Moment Correlation showed a positive relationship between USG and; perceived self-evaluated pre- [r(109)=.218, p<.05] and perceived self-evaluated post-urine sample [r(109)=.332, p<.001]. A positive relationship between USG and post-urine sample self-evaluation UC identification [r(109)=.311, p<.01] and professional analysis of UC and self-evaluated UC [r(109)=.701, p<0.001]. Additionally, a paired sample t test showed a significant decrease (i.e., more dehydrated) from pre- vs. post-urine sample self-evaluated perceived hydration status [t(108)=-2.3, p<0.05)]. CONCLUSIONS: Participants’ were somewhat able to perceive their own hydration status (i.e., pre-urine sample), as linked to measured USG. However, based upon post-urine sample self-evaluation and analysis of UC, perceived hydration status improved (i.e., more dehydrated) after looking at their urine sample. These findings strongly support that seeing urine color is a much better indicator of hydration status compared to self-perception.

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