BACKGROUND: The effect of color usage in marketing and consumer behavior has been widely studied, and most evidence suggests the ability of color to influence emotion and behavior. Previous research has shown that mouth rinsing with a colored (pink) non-caloric, artificially sweetened mouth rinse resulted in improvements in self-selected running speed in healthy, habitually active participants when compared to rinsing with a clear solution. Fluid consumption during exercise is important for performance, but whether the color of the fluid, when volume is controlled, influences exercise performance is not known. Thus the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of ingestion of a colored solution (pink, brown, and control) on self-selected running speed and distance traveled in healthy, habitually active college-age males and females. METHODS: Males and females who regularly participated in at least 3 days/week of moderate to vigorous intensity activity, including running as a regular part of their exercise regimen, were invited to participate. Participants (20.6±1.3 yrs; 68.1±3.4 in, 159.2±25.3 lbs) visited the laboratory on three occasions and were told that the purpose of the study was to investigate hydration levels; thus, they provided a urine sample for evaluation of hydration level at the beginning of each visit to reinforce the blinding to the true purpose of the study. Participants then performed a 2-min warm-up at self-selected speed on the Woodway Curve 3.0 treadmill, which allows the user to control the speed of the belt. After the warm-up, participants were given 2 minutes to consume an 8 ounce bottle of the colored water and were then instructed to cover as much ground as possible during a 10-min run; order of trials (pink, brown, clear) was counterbalanced. At the 5-min mark, participants straddled the treadmill belt and consumed another 8 ounces of colored liquid and then completed the trial. Total distance covered, average speed, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded, and visual analog scales were used to assess feelings of thirst, pleasure, and enjoyment. One way ANOVA was used to compare the three trials, with α=0.05. RESULTS: There were no significant differences among groups for total distance covered, average speed, or RPE (p<0.05). Likewise, there were no differences in perceived enjoyment, pleasure, or thirst (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that consumption of colored fluid does not impact running performance or perception of performance in recreationally active, college-age adults.

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