How Dragon Boat Athletes Improve Performance with Hydrogen-Rich Water

How Dragon Boat Athletes Improve Performance with Hydrogen-Rich Water

The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Jie, is a vibrant Chinese holiday celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, which falls in late May or June on the Gregorian calendar. This year, the festival lands on June 10th.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Dragon Boat Festival, it is steeped in history and traditions. One popular legend links the festival to the patriotic poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in protest of corruption. People raced out in boats to try and save him, and this tradition is said to be the origin of the dragon boat race.

What is the Dragon Boat Race?

The dragon boat race is the centerpiece of the festival. Long, ornately decorated boats with dragon heads carve through the water in thrilling races. Teams of paddlers, usually between 20 and 30 strong, work in perfect unison to propel the boat forward to the thunderous beat of drums.

These races are no small feat. The athletes who compete in dragon boat races train intensely to build the strength, stamina, and coordination needed to complete the race. Here's a glimpse into their exercise regime:


  • Strength Training: Paddling a dragon boat demands immense upper body strength. Athletes incorporate weight training, rowing machines, and exercises that target core and back muscles.
  • Cardio: They also focus heavily on cardiovascular endurance. Activities like running, swimming, and intense interval training help them maintain power throughout the race.
  • Teamwork: In these races, physical prowess isn't everything. Dragon boat racing is all about synchronized paddling. Teams practice together extensively to perfect their timing, coordination, and communication in the boat. A single, powerful stroke from the entire team is what propels them forward.


Based on the amount of physical exertion and training needed to compete in the dragon boat race, these athletes were the perfect subjects for a study to determine if the consumption of hydrogen-rich water (HRW) impacts athletic performance during intense training or competition.



The Effects of Hydrogen-rich Water on Dragon Boat Athletes

In this 2021 study, 18 dragon boat athletes who trained for 4 hours a day (2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon) were divided into an HRW group and a placebo water group. For seven days, they drank HRW or normal water during their training sessions.

Each participant completed 30-second rowing dynamometer tests every day during the study. The participants’ heart rates were monitored on Day 1 and on Day 8.

 Here are the results of the study:

  •     Drinking HRW increased the maximum power and average power during the rowing test and decreased the heart rate during the test.
  •     After the rowing test, the HRW group’s heart rate dropped significantly after two minutes of recovery, while the placebo group’s heart rate did not drop.

While this study focused only on dragon boat athletes, many other hydrogen studies have been conducted and come to the same conclusions regardless of the athletic ability of the subjects—drinking HRW can improve athletic performance and aid in heart rate recovery after exercise. Which means HRW may be the new and improved hydration method for athletes.


How Does HRW Improve Athletic Performance?

When exercise exceeds a body’s regular exertion level, the body can suffer from oxidative stress and increased fatigue during intense training or competition. When this happens, athletic performance suffers and risk of injury increases. This is why it is so important for athletes to increase their antioxidant intake.

Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress by donating electrons to neutralize free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cells. We usually think of antioxidants as vitamin C or E, but hydrogen acts as a more selective antioxidant with a unique mechanism:

Small Size, Big Reach: Due to the tiny size of a single hydrogen atom, it can easily diffuse across cell membranes and enter various cellular compartments where free radicals roam.

Selective Scavenger: Unlike some antioxidants that can react with beneficial molecules, hydrogen seems to specifically target highly reactive free radicals like hydroxyl radicals, which are particularly destructive.

Neutralizing Act: Hydrogen gas (H2) can donate an electron to these dangerous free radicals, converting them into harmless water molecules (H2O).


By drinking HRW (water with an increased concentration of hydrogen), athletes get a boost of antioxidants that target the most dangerous free radicals in the body. This increase of antioxidants results in:

Reduced Fatigue and Improved Performance: Hydrogen-rich water helps counteract fatigue caused by exercise. Studies suggest it can improve performance in activities like endurance training, repeated sprints, and uphill running.

Faster Recovery: By reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in muscles after exercise, hydrogen-rich water aids in faster heart rate recovery and overall muscle recovery.


Where Can I Get Hydrogen-rich Water?

You don’t have to be an athlete to drink hydrogen water. Anybody can drink hydrogen-rich water and enjoy its health benefits. Just remember, every person is different and has varying levels of antioxidant capacity. So, it’s important to find the right hydrogen concentration for you.

The amount of dissolved hydrogen in HRW can vary depending on the production method. Here are three main ways to produce hydrogen water:


Devices: These are usually countertop machines or water bottles that use electricity to split the water molecules into hydrogen molecules and oxygen molecules through electrolysis. This method gives you more control over the hydrogen concentration.

Consumable Inserts: These come in the form of hydrogen sticks or hydrogen generators, which are reusable capsules made of metal alloy that react to the water and create hydrogen gas. This production method offers limited control over the hydrogen concentration and also gives the water a metallic taste.

Magnesium Tablets: By dropping magnesium tablets into water, a chemical reaction is created that released hydrogen gas. Again, there is little control over the hydrogen concentration in the water and there’s a risk of exceeding safe magnesium levels.


For those who want convenient access to hydrogen-rich water while maintaining control of hydrogen concentration in the water, the Echo Go+ Hydrogen Water Bottle is the perfect solution. Through electrolysis, the water bottle provides 2.5 - 4.5 PPM of hydrogen with either a 5- or 10-minute cycle. You can take the water bottle with you anywhere, and all you have to do is fill it with purified water.

If you want more than 10 ounces of hydrogen water at a time, there are also the Hydrogen Water Pitcher and the Echo Ultimate Hydrogen Water Machine. Both of these products provide a reliable concentration of hydrogen in your water, so you can enjoy the health benefits of hydrogen-rich water whenever you want.


Table of Contents
  • What is the Dragon Boat Race?
  • The Effects of Hydrogen-rich Water on Dragon Boat Athletes
  • How Does HRW Improve Athletic Performance?
  • Where Can I Get Hydrogen-rich Water?

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